c. 1898 - 1955

Pearlie Irby Pettway

Boykin, Alabama
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.

She Knew Where She Was Going: Gee's Bend Quilts and Civil Rights

She Knew Where She Was Going: Gee's Bend Quilts and Civil Rights

Baltimore Museum of Art
March 10, 2021 to August 1, 2021

Gee’s Bend, Alabama, is home to generations of extraordinary Black craftswomen whose quilts represent a crucial chapter in the history of American Art. Since the early 1800s, women of Gee’s Bend have transformed worn clothes, sacks, and other fabric remnants into patterns that surpass the boundaries of the genre. Born out of necessity, the quilts provided warmth for family and friends while bearing witness to shared knowledge passed down among quilting groups and female lineages.

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."