Gee’s Bend Quilters at Pioneer Museum todayPublished 11:00pm Friday, March 1, 2013
Quilters from Gee’s Bend will open the 2013 edition of the “Pieces of History Quilt Exhibit” at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama today.
The Gee’s Bend Quilters program will be from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. with formal presentations by the quilters at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Between those times, the quilters will tell the story of Gee’s Bend and sing the songs that were popular among the residents of Gee’s Bend before it was “discovered” by the outside world.
Kari Barley, museum director, said Gee’s Bend is an African American majority community of 275, located in a large bend of the Alabama River.
“The women of Gee’s Bend have passed their skills and style down through at least six generations, from the 19th century to the present,” Barley said. “The Gee’s Bend quilters are widely recognized for their brilliant, bold and dynamic quilts. Their quilt designs are unique.”
Two of the older Gee’s Bend quilters, Mary Ann Pettway and China Pettway, will make the presentations along with a couple of the younger women. They will tell about the history of Gee’s Bend and about the art of quilt making. They will also be available to answer questions and will show off some of the quilts made by the Gee’s Bend quilters.
Barley said quilting was done in the isolated hamlet of Gee’s Bend out of necessity during the 19th century.
“Quilts were used to keep warm and for utilitarian needs,” she said. “It was not until much later that the Gee’s Bend quilts were recognized as a form of art. And, that art was being created in the isolated bend in the Alabama River. That’s the story that the quilters from Gee’s Bend will share with us.”
The Gee’s Bend program will be the first of two Saturday events offered in conjunction with the “Pieces of History Quilt Exhibit.”
On March 9, Sherry Burkhalter will be featured in a Quilt Turning at the museum.
“The quilt turning will include the identification of a large number of quilt patterns and the history behind them,” Barley said.
“Those who have old quilts that they know little about are encouraged to bring them and Sherry will be able to date them and possibly provide a good bit of information about the quilts.”
The “Pieces of History Quilt Show” will run at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama through March 31.
Door prizes will be award during the Gee’s Bend presentation and raffle tickets for a quilt made by the Pioneer Quilter will be available for purchase.