"Basket Weave"

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    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
80 x 80 inches
Collection of
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Meticulously placed green corduroy strips is the distinguishing feature of Nettie Jane Kennedy’s quilt from 1973. Conceived as a whole system, Kennedy’s strips lend a unified visual impression embodied in her name for the pattern: “Basket Weave." However, the uniformity is broken up by eccentric green elements: a long row of green strips along the one edge, and the placement of two odd green strips in the row at the composition’s opposite side. This quilt offers another example of the Gee’s Benders’ control of edges and boundaries, so crucial to the success of geometric and, especially, minimalist forms.

It is interesting to note that the merest alterations at the outer rows of stripes of Kennedy’s quilt transform an otherwise regular pattern into a highly personalized artwork. in looking at this and other Gee’s Bend quilts, it seems clear that many quiltmakers recognize the ways that small alterations or pattern breaks, particularly in the border zones of the composition, can make for large-scale effects. —Lauren Whitley