Friday, April 12, 2013

Gee's Bend talk next Friday, and Friday Flickr favorites!

Hi friends,
I wanted to make sure you saw this invitation to hear two of the women from Gee's Bend next Friday, as they are speaking in DC!  This looks really cool - I am seriously contemplating taking time off work to go!  It's not a bad walk from the Foggy Bottom or Dupont Circle metro.  Please comment if you think you might go, and note the RSVP deadline of Wednesday!

Renowned Quilt Artists of Gee’s Bend Visit Washington, D.C. April 19, 2013

When: Friday, April 19, 2013, 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Where: 2445 M Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. (Patton Boggs LLP offices,
Washington-Jefferson Conference Room)
RSVP: by Wednesday, April 17 to

Internationally acclaimed Gee’s Bend, Alabama quilt artists Mary Lee Bendolph and Loretta Pettway
Bennett will be in Washington, D.C. on April 19 for a presentation of their art and hands-on
demonstration of their techniques. Given space limitations, an RSVP is requested for attendance.
The works of Mary Lee Bendolph and Loretta Pettway Bennett have enthralled museum-goers over
the years. Gee’s Bend art has been profiled in a series of U.S. postage stamps, a Pulitzer prizewinning
Los Angeles Times story, and in The New Yorker, Newsweek, New York Times, Smithsonian
Magazine, PBS and NPR.

Gee’s Bend is a rural community isolated geographically on a peninsula at a deep bend in the
Alabama River, southwest of Selma. Local women have been creating quilt art here for nearly 200
years – using available materials, in patterns of their own creative design. Bendolph and Bennett –
among the most highly acclaimed of the Gee’s Bend artists – are currently collaborating on a new
collection of works for future gallery exhibition.

Art critics have described Gee’s Bend quilts as “high art” – comparable to the most valuable works
of contemporary art. The New York Times described Gee’s Bend quilts as “some of the most
miraculous works of modern art America has produced.” Newsweek stated that the quilts are
remarkable for the “unconventional color, bold and surprising composition, and subtle visual

Background on the Artists

Loretta Pettway Bennett

Loretta Pettway Bennett is a fifth-generation quilter from Gee’s Bend, Alabama, and one of the youngest to continue handstitching quilts in the renowned Gee’s Bend style. She is the second of eight
children and oldest daughter of Tom O. and Qunnie Elizabeth Pettway Jr.  Loretta’s ancestry traces back to Dinah Miller, a great-great-great grandmother who, according to folklore and family history, was one
of the first slaves to have arrived in Gee’s Bend. Loretta has over two dozen additional relatives among the initial group of quilters, establishing her as a bona fide member of what could be considered
America’s quilting royalty.

Loretta has stated that she came full circle, back to her Gee’s Bend roots, when she made a quilt in
honor of her mother Qunnie Pettway, who taught her to sew and quilt, and her cousin Arlonzia
Pettway. “After that quilt, I went into a zone where I was inspired to use really bold colors and
different types of materials together just like the generations of relatives before me, because they
used what they had. I added something else that my family especially loves, music and dancing. I
was finally there, using different shapes, sizes, colors and textures. Just like my family, imperfect but
still a family.”

Mary Lee Bendolph

Mary Lee Bendolph, the seventh of 17 children, descends from generations of accomplished Quiltmakers in Gee’s Bend, Alabama.  She learned to quilt from her mother, Aolar Mosely, and she worked
over the years in a variety of textile-related jobs.  Mary Lee gathers design ideas for her quilt art by looking at the world around her. Anything – from people’s clothes at church, to her barn, to quilts hanging on clotheslines in front yards, to how the land looks when she’s high above it in an airplane – can inspire her.
Mary Lee Bendolph accompanied Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his march at Camden, Alabama, in 1965.

Mary Lee has worked to promote greater understanding of her community and its unique art form.
She has appeared on numerous television and radio programs, and figured prominently in the PBS
documentary “The Quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend.” In 1999, Mary Lee’s life was profiled in the Los
Angeles Times by J.R. Moehringer in “Crossing Over: Mary Lee’s Vision,” which was awarded a
Pulitzer Prize. Additionally, the main character Sadie Pettway in Elyzabeth Wilder’s play “Gee’s
Bend,” currently on tour, is based on Mary Lee Bendolph.


Also, for today's Friday flickr favorite - wow!  I understand now why Jessie has a hard time picking!  I'm totally in love with Carla's Kaleidoscope quilt top (as is, apparently, most of the group, based on all the comments!), and Anna's finished Fracture Quilt is stunning (and it has been so fun to have seen it progress from meeting to meeting), but I wanted to pick one that hasn't been seen yet and where the artist (Lexi, in this case) wants suggestions!  So, click on over and help her figure out what to use for the back!


Finally, just a quick note to watch your e-mail today (Friday) for a note from Jessie (probably from our official e-mail address - dcmodquilts at gmail dot com) - for the survey/vote on the direction of our group.  We'd like to have everyone respond by Monday night (seems appropriate for the deadline to be tax day, yes?).  And for those of you, like me, who also haven't started on your taxes, may the next 3 days go slowly and may your math skills be excellent!  Nothing like procrastinating by looking at quilt pictures, right?!?

Have a great week, friends!


  1. i would love to go to that presentation next friday. i just have to figure out the logistics of getting my son on the bus, driving in morning traffic, parking and metro all in time for 10am. that could be a little tight.

  2. I sent my RSVP to the address you listed. I had other plans but I think I can shift them to allow me to be here for this great opportunity to hear about the modern masters! Let's hope there is room for us to go. I am wondering where you found out about this presentation?