Inspiration From the Gee's Bend Quilts

Last weekend found the Carrot Top Studio staff in Baltimore to see the Gee’s Bend quilt exhibit at the lovely Walters Art Museum. The exhibition explored the impact of environment and traditional quilting techniques, and examined the structural patterns that appear to form the foundation of Gee's Bend quilt making. The quilts, whose patterns have been handed down through generations, display bold colors and an improvisational style that is reminiscent of 20th-century minimalist art.

Artistically, the distinctive and bold quilting style reminded me that simple is often better. The power and beauty of these quilts often comes from basic shapes in solid planes and subtle color choices. The quilts can be appreciated without the distractions of composition, theme and other elements of traditional quilting. The work has been stripped to what is essential.

The powerful American artistic quilting tradition of the women from Gee's Bend has been passed down through at least six generations to the present. The faith traditions of this community are just as strong. I don’t know how they have passed on their faith traditions but, I wonder if some of the following has been part of the families lives at Gee's Bend:

  • bringing faith into the family's daily life...noticing God's fingerprint throughout the day.

  • letting children experience the richness of worship...the sights, the smells, the sounds, the rhythm of the liturgy.

  • teaching children the language of faith...the symbols, images, stories and songs.

The handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice is important. Today I am thankful for my family and others like the women of Gee's Bend who have gone before me.

We hope you’re inspired by the photo which is of “Housetop Variations” by Loretta Pettway, 2003.