Gee’s Bend: From Quilts to Prints

Marilyn Zapf

Big 1 MLB 2014(1)

Mary Lee Bendolph, Patch, 2014. Color aquatint, spitbite aquatint, and softground etching, 38 × 53.5 inches
; Edition of fifty. Produced by Paulson Bott Press. Image courtesy of Paulson Bott Press

Gee’s Bend: From Quilts to Prints
Curated by Marilyn Zapf and Julie Levin Caro
Organized by The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design and Warren Wilson College

In 2002 the widely acclaimed touring exhibition The Quilts of Gee’s Bend brought to the attention of the art world the bold, improvisational quilts made by generations of women from the rural community of Gee’s Bend, Alabama.  Less well known are a series of limited-edition prints made by four Gee’s Bend artists between 2005 and 2014: Louisiana P. Bendolph (b. 1960), Mary Lee Bendolph (b. 1935), Loretta Bennett (b. 1960), and Loretta Pettway (b. 1942).

Gee’s Bend: From Quilts to Prints is the first in-depth examination of this series of fine art prints created at Paulson Bott Press in Berkeley, California.  These prints capture the distinctive design aesthetic of the individual quiltmakers, a connection that can be appreciated only when the prints and quilts are viewed together.

Studying the prints with the quilts reveals a network of translations in scale, material, and process.  In addition to changes in materiality, the Gee’s Bend works have navigated many artistic and cultural borders – from the home to the gallery, from self-taught to contemporary art, from craft to fine art, and beyond.  Their transferability uncovers the porous, blurry, and sometimes artificial lines that separate these categories.  A careful consideration of the prints ultimately demonstrates the flexibility and artistic legacy of the Gee’s Bend quiltmaking tradition.

On View:

September 5, 2014 – January 10, 2015
Benchspace Gallery & Workshop
The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design
67 Broadway Street, Asheville, NC 28801

September 5, 2014­–December 30, 2014
Elizabeth Holden Gallery
Warren Wilson College
701 Warren Wilson Road
Asheville, NC 28815

February 20, 2015–May 17, 2015
Sheldon Museum of Art
12 and R Streets
Lincoln, NE 68588-0300