Abstraction & Improvisation

All of the quilts in this Gee's Bend project may be called improvisational or "my way" quilts. Uninhibited by the norms of fine or folk art, the Bend quiltmakers have been guided by a faith in personal vision; most of them start with basic forms and head off "their way" with unexpected patterns, unusual colors, and surprising rhythms. The quiltmakers of Gee's Bend and Rehoboth tell similar stories when describing their separate styles; taken together, the women's insistence on developing a unique artistic voice becomes a statement about their community's tradition. The people of the Bend like to do things in certain ways and have stuck to them. Theirs are handsome, if unorthodox, works of art, yet the shared unorthodoxy attests to the stabilizing power of a tradition that, for many decades, has fostered individualism and even eccentricity. By making what they want to make, these women reveal innovative ways of looking at fabric, design, and format and have produced work that is utterly original and ranks with the finest abstract art in any tradition.

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