"Housetop" variation

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
Cotton and cotton blends
86 x 68 inches
Collection of
Toledo Museum of Art
Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Supported by the newfound recognition and identity in the wake of the success of The Quilts of Gee’s Bend, many quiltmakers intensified their activity after 2002. Among these, Louisiana Bendolph, Mary Lee Bendolph, and Irene Williams, in particular, all found remarkably distinctive individual styles or added depth and breadth to their existing ones in ways that lead the old traditions in new directions.

Louisiana Bendolph’s geometric black and white quilt may be the most nearly scientific example of the new yet distinctively “Gee’s Bend” style of aesthetic self-reflection. The quilt is partly a “Housetop” and partly a “Bricklayer.” The squares within squares of the “Housetop” quadrants and the stairlike arrangement of the “Bricklayer” quadrants are brought into clear focus by the use of basic black and white. The quilt pries apart the stability of symmetry. For example, the two halves of a divided “Housetop” are together too small to occupy the large rectangle; the lower half of the quilt seems, deceptively, to be larger than the upper half because of the weight of the black and the cunning origination of the white “Bricklayer” stairs in the center instead of on the side (as occurs in the top half).