The Town of Gee’s Bend
The tiny Alabama community was founded by freed slaves, who became tenant farmers (sharecroppers) of the area’s former plantation owner. During the Great Depression, the federal government stepped in to help the residents buy land and homes. But the area’s isolation continued, encouraging a unique and striking style of quilt-making among local women that went largely unnoticed until less than 10 years ago, when the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston organized an exhibition. The exhibition eventually traveled to the Whitney Museum in New York and critics were quick to praise their artistry, with the New York Times declaring them “some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.”
Read more about the history of the quilts at the official site of the foundation, run by the current quilt-makers and their supporters: quiltsofgeesbend.com.
The Original Exhibition
Read and listen to a Talk of the Nation story on National Public Radio about the initial exhibition that brought the quilts to light.