If you see just one exhibit this summer in Seattle, make it this one.
Fifteen quilts and several dazzling prints by the quilters of Gee's Bend, Alabama are on view at Greg Kucera Gallery through September 2. More work will be on view in Tacoma, and again in San Francisco in the fall.
The Saturday after the show opened, I was lucky enough to attend a talk by three of the artists: Mary Lee Bendolph, Loretta Pettway, and Louisiana Bendolph. These extraordinary women are like messengers from another culture and time, and their stories, their warmth, and their sheer presence sent palpable ripples through those who saw them and heard them speak (and sing).
Built in larger blocks than conventional quilts, the Gee's Bend compositions are bold, alive and confident. The dynamic, surprising color arrangements place them beyond the category of pure craft and firmly in the realm of art (despite the fact that their makers had never heard the term "artist" until recently, much less applied it to themselves). While the designs are visually powerful, their impact is additionally poignant because of the function of the objects, the recycled fabric and the history of the makers.
Greg Kucera Gallery
Quilts of Gee's Bend
Housetop Variation, 2002