A Renowned Community of Quilters Is Taking on Copycats and Winning

A Renowned Community of Quilters Is Taking on Copycats and Winning

Quilts made by generations of women in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, have hung in the Met, the Whitney, and the Smithsonian Museum of Art. They’ve been shown at galleries and art fairs around the world. But if the quilters want to directly sell their world-famous quilts — vibrant, often asymmetrical, charismatic works, originally hand-stitched for warmth from scavenged fabric — they’ve had to wait for prospective buyers to come to them. That requires a drive deep into the Alabama Black Belt, along red dirt roads with little to no cell signal, through an isolated stretch of grassy meadows and pine woods, to a community deep in an oxbow of the Alabama River that, if the ferry’s not running, is nearly 40 miles from the closest hotel, supermarket, or pharmacy. At least, this is how it worked before February of 2021.

Valerie Cassel Oliver Receives CCS Bard’s $25,000 Award for Curatorial Excellence

Valerie Cassel Oliver Receives CCS Bard’s $25,000 Award for Curatorial Excellence

The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (CCS Bard) has named Valerie Cassel Oliver, the curator of an acclaimed survey about sound and Southern culture, as the 2022 recipient of its Audrey Irmas Award for Curatorial Excellence. The prize, which goes to one curator annually, comes with a $25,000 purse. “Valerie Cassel Oliver should be considered one of America’s great ‘thought leaders,’ a curator who constantly surprises, enlightens, and broadens the scope of art,” said Tom Eccles, executive director of CCS Bard, in a statement.

Why Alabama’s Gee’s Bend was right for clothing company expansion

Why Alabama’s Gee’s Bend was right for clothing company expansion

Gee’s Bend, Alabama, couldn’t be real. That’s what fashion designer Patrick Robinson, who knew of the storied Gee’s Bend’s quilters, figured. “I’ve owned the books of Gee’s Bend forever. I never thought it was a real place,” says Robinson, founder of the New York City-based Paskho clothing company. “I thought it was this mystical place where people made … I mean, if you look at the art, the craft that people make, it blows your mind. So I didn’t believe they existed.” Yet, the self-proclaimed “weird one from New York with the Afro” sits at a real aluminum picnic table under a real Southern pine on a stunning late fall day, outside a building bustling with real seamstresses – including some quilters – to assemble clothing for Paskho. In the real community of Gee’s Bend, Alabama.

Looking Back to Fly Forward: "Another Tradition" at the Morgan Library & Museum

Looking Back to Fly Forward: "Another Tradition" at the Morgan Library & Museum

Lonnie Holley came to art via tombstones. In 1979, when his sister lost two children in a house fire, Holley managed his grief by chipping away at stone, carving headstones for his niece and nephew’s graves. Afterward, he kept making sculptures and eventually began working with other materials, like wood, barbed wire, and animal bones. Despite their formal eclecticism, these pieces share a purpose: they suggest jagged totems for departed spirits. At the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, in the exhibition “Another Tradition: Drawings by Black Artists from the American South,” one of Holley’s assemblages acted as a conduit for the dead. 

On View: See Images From ‘Sanford Biggers: Codeswitch,’ First Survey of Artist’s Quilt-Based Works at California African American Museum in Los Angeles

On View: See Images From ‘Sanford Biggers: Codeswitch,’ First Survey of Artist’s Quilt-Based Works at California African American Museum in Los Angeles

Working with antique, pre-1900 quilts, Sanford Biggers makes mixed-media works that present as painted textiles and sculptural installations. The quilt-based works are inspired by the modern and contemporary artistry of the Black women who have been making quilts in Gee’s Bend, Ala., for generations and the rumored lore surrounding quilts as signposts and communications vehicles on the Underground Railroad. 

Freedom Quilting Bee Legacy Selects Renowned Montgomery Architecture Firm to Revitalize Building which was the Pillar of the Regional Quilt Economy

Freedom Quilting Bee Legacy Selects Renowned Montgomery Architecture Firm to Revitalize Building which was the Pillar of the Regional Quilt Economy

After a rigorous selection process, The Freedom Quilting Bee Legacy is excited to announce, it has selected Brown Studio Architecture of Montgomery to revitalize the historic building of the Freedom Quilting Bee (The Bee), and to develop a master site plan for its 14+ surrounding acres. The Bee was a women’s quilting cooperative in rural Alabama begun in 1966. Just before leading the marches from Selma to Montgomery, AL, in 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. passed through Alberta and the hamlet of Gee’s Bend and encouraged its 900 residents to register to vote. It was Dr. King’s visit and message which the founding women derived the name “Freedom Quilting Bee”, through the vote Black people would gain ‘freedom’.

‘The New Bend’ Brings Together 12 Contemporary Artists working in the Raced, Classed, and Gendered Traditions of Quilting and Textile Practice

‘The New Bend’ Brings Together 12 Contemporary Artists working in the Raced, Classed, and Gendered Traditions of Quilting and Textile Practice

Curated by Legacy Russell, Executive Director & Chief Curator of The Kitchen, ‘The New Bend’ brings together 12 contemporary artists working in the raced, classed, and gendered traditions of quilting and textile practice – Anthony Akinbola, Eddie R. Aparicio, Dawn Williams Boyd, Diedrick Brackens, Tuesday Smillie, Tomashi Jackson, Genesis Jerez, Basil Kincaid, Eric N. Mack, Sojourner Truth Parsons, Qualeasha Wood, and Zadie Xa. Their unique visual vernacular exists in tender dialogue with, and in homage to, the contributions of the Gee’s Bend Alabama quilters – Black American women in collective cooperation and creative economic production – and their enduring legacy as a radical meeting place, a prompt, and as intergenerational inspiration.

Meet Starasea Camara, a Black Latina Muslim American Curator, Emerging Historian and Diasporist

Meet Starasea Camara, a Black Latina Muslim American Curator, Emerging Historian and Diasporist

Meet Starasea Camara, a Black Latina Muslim American curator, emerging historian and diasporist. She’s passionate about the transatlantic intersections and centering Black and Brown communities within the arts. Her focus is on West African, Indigenous, Latinx, Muslim, and Black American arts, intersectional histories and cultures. In this interview, Starasea breaks down Black diaspora/Latine/Caribbean/Trans-Atlantic histories, her experiences as an emerging arts curator, and the need for specificity when talking about Blackness — and within that, Afro Latinidad.
Why artist Sanford Biggers remixes different forms, styles of art to express himself

Why artist Sanford Biggers remixes different forms, styles of art to express himself

Sanford Biggers is an artist who mixes media and pushes boundaries to create an art all his own. Jeffrey Brown looks at his interdisciplinary work, focusing on a signature piece, “Fool’s Folly.”

The Recent Sale of Amy Sherald’s ‘Welfare Queen’ Symbolizes the Urgent Need for Resale Royalties and Economic Equity for Artists

The Recent Sale of Amy Sherald’s ‘Welfare Queen’ Symbolizes the Urgent Need for Resale Royalties and Economic Equity for Artists

This past Wednesday, November 17, a regal portrait by the celebrated artist Amy Sherald sold for $3.9 million, double its $1.2 million-to-$1.8 million estimate, in the 20th-century and contemporary evening sale at Phillips New York. Welfare Queen (2012), listed in the catalogue as hailing from “a private East Coast collector,” was consigned by Dr. Imani Perry, the Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University.