This Season Is All About Impactful Quilts

This Season Is All About Impactful Quilts

American patchwork quilts, which sprang up in large part out of the pragmatic need for warmth during wintry months, may not seem particularly interesting in today’s art world. Yet those historic hand-sewn pieces frequently tell stories of injustice and inequality that are just as relevant today as they were when they were first made. Now, with two U.S. museums and one London gallery opening exhibitions on quilts that contain compelling messages of racial injustice and gender equality, the artistic American subgenre is once again rightfully center stage in the public’s imagination.

Souls Grown Deep Starts Unprecedented Resale Royalties for Artists

Souls Grown Deep Starts Unprecedented Resale Royalties for Artists

Souls Grown Deep Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting work by African American artists from the American South, launched a Resale Royalty Award Program to compensate artists when their work is resold through the foundation’s Collection Transfer Program. The program, which applies to past as well as future transactions, includes sales at auction, in galleries, and to museums. It offers living artists 5% — the highest royalty threshold worldwide — of the proceeds from secondary market sales, at up to $85,000 annually per artist.

Souls Grown Deep Foundation will give living artists a 5% royalty when collection works are resold

Souls Grown Deep Foundation will give living artists a 5% royalty when collection works are resold

The Souls Grown Deep Foundation, an organisation dedicated to documenting and promoting the work of African American artists from the US South, is launching a Resale Royalty Award Program that will grant monetary awards to living artists whose works have been sold through the foundation’s Collection Transfer Program. That initiative has so far placed more than 400 works into museums around the world, including the Met, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Washington, DC’s Phillips Collection, and more. Now, around 50 artists whose work has so far been sold will receive a payout, a rare occurrence in the US, which does not have a droit de suite law for secondary market sales, when their prices may have gone up.

8 Southerners Making a Difference in Their Communities

8 Southerners Making a Difference in Their Communities

The Gee’s Bend quilters have long been known for sewing fabric into beautiful fine art, but when the pandemic reared its head, Mary Margaret Pettway (on left) and Mary McCarthy took to smaller objets d’art. “We had a copious amount of cloth from one company and thought, ‘Oh, these would make great masks,’ ” says McCarthy. So they partnered with the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, of which Pettway is board chair, to hire six more quilters and gather materials to make 600 masks—enough for their entire community.

Meet Women Behind the Quilts of Gee's Bend That Changed America

Meet Women Behind the Quilts of Gee's Bend That Changed America

Every quilt has a story to tell, and the quilters of Gee's Bend have fostered quite a legacy for storytelling. For over a hundred years, the women who live in this small community in Southern Alabama have passed down the tradition of quilting from daughter to daughter, and each quilt reveals the personage who made it and the time period in which it was artfully stitched together. "It's been a continuous line of creation," says Raina A. Lampkins-Fielder, curator at Souls Grown Deep. "They've taken traditional quilt patterning and made it into their own, improvisational and unique."

'Can I Make Sure That I'm Not The Only One?' Artist Helps Museum Diversify Collection

'Can I Make Sure That I'm Not The Only One?' Artist Helps Museum Diversify Collection

When the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts bought Manuel Mathieu's painting of his late grandmother in 2018, he learned that it would be the first work the museum had ever owned by a Haitian-Canadian artist. "I automatically started thinking, 'OK, how can I make sure that I'm not the only one?,' " Mathieu recalls. Mathieu, 33, decided to donate the money from the sale of his painting back to the museum, to start a fund to acquire other pieces by under-represented artists. Soon donors were eager to give to the Marie-Solange Apollon Fund, named for Mathieu's grandmother. "There's something that happened that I wasn't expecting," Mathieu says. "The switch in the psyche of people that an artist can do something like that. ... I saw it in people's eyes, not in their words."

The Innovative Quilt Makers of Gee’s Bend Created a New Canon

The Innovative Quilt Makers of Gee’s Bend Created a New Canon

What began as an exercise in making beauty out of necessity (the quilts were historically used to keep warm at home) has become a multigenerational art form that marries spirituality, ancestral legacy and community (stitching is largely a group activity), not to mention an exceptional command of colour, form and compositional rhythm. By combining well-known quilting techniques with a specific blend of “controlled improvisation”, each maker creates something distinct and mesmeric, and every bit as complex as the European modernists who were once reconceiving line, colour and space thousands of miles away.

Souls Grown Deep Partners with American Giant and Nest to Auction quilted works from Gee's Bend

Souls Grown Deep Community Partnership and Foundation is partnering with American-made apparel manufacturer American Giant and nonprofit Nest to offer at auction a collection of 18 newly made quilted flags created by women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Souls Grown Deep’s collaboration with American Giant and Nest furthers its commitment to the economic success of Gee’s Bend, which gave rise to many of the artists in the Foundation’s collection. The 18 new quilted works will be available by auction from American Giant at this link from August 24-31, 2020, with 100% of auction proceeds going to the individual artists.

The Documentary: Stitching Souls

The Documentary: Stitching Souls

Deep in Alabama’s Black Belt, the village of Gee’s Bend is almost an island, cut off by a loop in the Alabama River. The ferry that linked the Bend to Camden, the local county seat, was stopped by white segregationists in 1962, and not reinstated until 2006. Once enslaved plantation workers, then sharecroppers, then struggling New Deal farmers, the people of the Bend remained largely unnoticed by mainstream history, despite Martin Luther King’s visit in 1965 a few weeks before the civil rights march on Selma.

William S. Arnett,  May 10, 1939 - August 12, 2020

William S. (“Bill”) Arnett passed away peacefully at the age of 81 in Atlanta, Georgia, on August 12, 2020. A writer, editor, and art collector, Arnett devoted himself for several decades to the art of varied civilizations, from the ancient art of the Mediterranean to China and Southeast Asia to sub-Saharan Africa. In the mid-1980s, Arnett changed his focus to collecting and championing African American artists from the Deep South.