"Housetop" and "Bricklayer" blocks with bars

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
c. 1955
Cotton, corduroy, cotton knit, flannel, even weave
90 x 78 inches
Collection of
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Each workday as Lucy T. Pettway walked to and from the fields, she carried a pencil and paper in her pocket so she could sketch ideas that came to her from observations. Inspiration could come from a quilt hanging on a line, or a house or a farm building, or a detail of the landscape. In the mid-l950s she created an extraordinary block-and-strip quilt that presented an almost literal map of a section of the old Pettway community. At the top is the large plantation house. Beneath it are four field-workers’ cabins, each with a slightly different architectural configuration, and strips that denote dirt roads and paths. On one side is a representation of the fields and their variety of crops, and on the other the Alabama River. An improbable aspect of this unique quilt is that not one of its parts is out of the ordinary. Each is a basic design element from traditional Gee’s Bend quilts—“Housetop,” “Bricklayer,” and “Lazy Gal” (a simple quilt of parallel stripes).