Since the early nineteenth century, the women of Gee’s Bend in southern Alabama have created stunning, vibrant quilts. In the only photo-essay book about the quilts of Gee’s Bend for children, award-winning author Susan Goldman Rubin explores the history and culture of this fascinating group of women and their unique quilting traditions. Rubin uses meticulous research to offer an exclusive look at an important facet of African American art and culture.
In the rural community of Gee’s Bend, African American women have been making quilts for generations. They use scraps of old overalls, aprons, and bleached cornmeal sacks—anything they can find. Their traditions have been passed down through the decades. Much to the women’s surprise, a selection of the quilts was featured in an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 2002. The exhibition then traveled to the Whitney Museum in New York City. “Eye-poppingly gorgeous,” wrote a critic for the New York Times about the exhibition. He continued, “Some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art will exhibit its newly acquired collection of Gee’s Bend quilts in 2017.
Rubin is known for producing well-researched, highly praised, and sophisticated biographies of artists and other important figures. Through similar research, The Quilts of Gee’s Bend shares specifics about this rare community and its rich traditions, allowing children to pause to consider history through the eyes of the people who lived it and through a legacy that is passed on to the next generation.
This book should be of great interest to classrooms, libraries, and those interested in African American art in the United States, in addition to quilting, life in early emancipated colonies in the South, and Gee’s Bends importance in the Civil Right’s movement. The quilts and the incredible stories behind them are powerful motivators for anyone who wishes to accomplish anything. A map, directions on how to make a quilt square, endnotes, and an index round out this stunning nonfiction book.