1941 -

Lola Pettway

Boykin, Alabama
    About

    As a young girl, Lola Pettway, daughter of Allie and John the Baptist Pettway, was influenced by her mother’s quilting circle, which included Lucy Mingo and Candis Pettway.

    I had a good childhood. I started cooking when I was nine. I worked hard, came up rough—nine sisters and four brothers. I went to the field at about ten years old. No favorite thing, just had to do it all. I knew I had to do it so I didn’t mind doing it. I stayed in the field more than I did at school. We stayed in the field from March until the last of June. Then we go back to pick in August. And gather the crop until December—millet, corn, potatoes. I had a hard time but I made it. 

    My older brother Ebenezer, if he picked two hundred pounds, I’d pick two hundred, too. But he plowed. He and my daddy did that.

    I was never alone working; all kids worked together. When I married, my children kept me company—I had twelve. We went through a hard time but they were and are a blessing. Thank God for them.

    I come up quilting, too. My mom is Allie Pettway, father was John the Baptist Pettway. Mom had me quilting. We had to use four frames and hang up in the loft. I pieced some quilts but I’d rather quilt. Rather quilt than put it up, ’cause there’s so much beating on the cotton to spread it out and then whip it onto the frame. Set the frame on blocks to whip it in. Piecing and quilting takes a lot of sitting down. I don’t like to be sitting down too long a time.

    My Soul Has Grown Deep: Black Art from the American South

    My Soul Has Grown Deep: Black Art from the American South

    A new consideration of extraordinary art created by self-taught Black artists during the mid-20th century​. My Soul Has Grown Deep considers the art-historical significance of self-taught Black artists, many working under conditions of poverty and isolation, in the American South. It features paintings and drawings, mixed-media and sculptural works, and quilts, including pieces ranging from the pioneering paintings of Thornton Dial (1928–2016) to the renowned quilts made in Gee’s Bend, Alabama.

    History Refused to Die: The Enduring Legacy of the African American Art of Alabama

    History Refused to Die: The Enduring Legacy of the African American Art of Alabama

    After the death of Martin Luther King Jr., Alabama produced an impressive number of African American self-taught artists whose work particularly focused on the Civil Rights Movement and on aspects of history that led to it. This happened, in part, because the action was right on their doorsteps: Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Selma March, the murder of four little girls in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. It was a spontaneous response to an emerging opportunity, and it occurred all over the South.
    Creation Story: Gee's Bend Quilts and the Art of Thornton Dial

    Creation Story: Gee's Bend Quilts and the Art of Thornton Dial

    Creation Story explores parallels and intersections in the works of Dial and his fellow Alabamians, the remarkable quilters of Gee’s Bend. In the tradition of African American cemetery constructions and yard art, these artists harness the tactile properties and symbolic associations of cast-off materials in creating an art of profound beauty and evocative power.
    Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt

    Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt

    This book and exhibition are part of a growing family of research projects about the African American community of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, and its quilts. Surrounded on three sides by a river, Gee’s Bend developed a distinctive local culture and quilt design aesthetic. In 2002 the inaugural exhibition The Quilts of Gee’s Bend documented these quiltmaking achievements. Expanding upon that initial exhibition and its accompanying publications, Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt offers a deeper look into the women and their art, and a more focused investigation into the nature and inspirations—and future—of the Gee’s Bend quilt tradition.

    Gee's Bend: The Women and Their Quilts

    Gee's Bend: The Women and Their Quilts

    Gee’s Bend quilts carry forward an old and proud tradition of textiles made for home and family. They represent only a part of the rich body of African American quilts. But they are in a league by themselves. Few other places can boast the extent of Gee’s Bend’s artistic achievement, the result of both geographical isolation and an unusual degree of cultural continuity. In few places elsewhere have works been found by three and sometimes four generations of women in the same family, or works that bear witness to visual conversations among community quilting groups and lineages. Gee’s Bend’s art also stands out for its flair—quilts composed boldly and improvisationally, in geometries that transform recycled work clothes and dresses, feed sacks, and fabric remnants.

    The Quilts of Gee's Bend

    The Quilts of Gee's Bend

    The women of Gee’s Bend—a small, remote, black community in Alabama—have created hundreds of quilt masterpieces dating from the early twentieth century to the present. The Quilts of Gee’s Bend tells the story of this town and its art.

    In the Presence of Our Ancestors: Southern Perspectives in African American Art

    In the Presence of Our Ancestors: Southern Perspectives in African American Art

    Minneapolis Institute of Art
    December 12, 2020 to December 5, 2021

    In the Presence of Our Ancestors: Southern Perspectives in African American Art” brings together methods of visual storytelling and ancestral memory through the individual practices of artists from the “Black Belt” region of the American South—a term that refers to the region’s black soil, as well as the le

    History Refused to Die: Highlights from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation Gift

    History Refused to Die: Highlights from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation Gift

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    May 22 - September 23, 2018

    This exhibition will present 30 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and quilts by self-taught contemporary African American artists to celebrate the 2014 gift to The Metropolitan Museum of Art of works of art from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.

    Creation Story: Gee's Bend Quilts and the Art of Thornton Dial

    Creation Story: Gee's Bend Quilts and the Art of Thornton Dial

    Frist Center for the Visual Arts
    May 25 - September 2, 2012

    This exhibition explores parallels and intersections in the works of the world-famous Gee’s Bend quilters and the master of assemblage art, Thornton Dial. Quilts made by the women of Gee’s Bend feature a sophisticated orchestration of color and eccentric quasi-geometric shapes composing what the New York Times has said are “some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.”

    Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt

    Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt

    Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
    June 4 – September 4, 2006

    "Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt" features seventy spectacular quilts made by four generations of women in Gee's Bend, a small, isolated African American community in southwest Alabama. With bold improvisation of traditional quilt motifs, these women have created a style all their own. Made between the 1930s and the present, the Gee's Bend quilts’ bright patterns, inventive color combinations, lively irregularities and unexpected compositional variations make them outstanding examples of modern art.

    The Quilts of Gee's Bend

    The Quilts of Gee's Bend

    Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
    September 6 – November 10, 2002

    "The Quilts of Gee’s Bend" celebrates the artistic legacy of four generations of African-American women from a small, historically all-black community in rural southern Alabama. This exhibition of over sixty extraordinary quilts that were made between 1930 and 2000 showcases a body of work that is bold, spirited, moving, and hailed by Michael Kimmelman, in The New York Times, as “some of the most miraculous works of art America has produced.”

    The Quiltmakers of Gee's Bend

    This uplifting, Emmy-winning PBS film tells the modern-day "Cinderalla" story of the quiltmakers of Gee's Bend, Alabama. Artists born into extreme poverty, they live to see their quilts hailed by a The New York Times art critic as "some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced."