MVC to host reception for famous quilters

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Missouri Valley College art department will host the Gee's Bend Quilt Artists at a reception at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 25 in the Ferguson Center R. Wilson Brown Room on the MVC campus, according to a news release from the college.

The Gee's Bend women are brought to MVC with the support of the County Patchwork Quilt Guild.

According to the Gee's Bend Quilt Artists website, the group was founded in the small rural community of Gee's Bend, Ala. It was the site of cotton plantations, primarily the lands of Joseph Gee and his relative Mark Pettway, who bought the Gee estate in 1850.

After the Civil War, the freed slaves took the name Pettway, became tenant farmers for the Pettway family, and founded an all-black community nearly isolated from the surrounding world. During the Great Depression, the federal government stepped in to purchase land and homes for the community, bringing strange renown -- as an "Alabama Africa" -- to this sleepy hamlet.

The town's women developed a distinctive, bold, and sophisticated quilting style based on traditional American and African American quilts, but with a geometric simplicity reminiscent of Amish quilts and modern art. The women of Gee's Bend passed their skills and aesthetic down through at least six generations to the present.

"The theme for the evening is 'Oh the Places You'll Go' from the Dr. Seuss book by the same title," said Charity-Mika Woodard, MVC art department chair. "Art can take you many places and through their art the ladies of the Gee's Bend have traveled the world, have numerous books, and a play all based on their amazing story. They will be sharing their story and answering questions on this one magical evening."

The Gee's Bend Quilt Artists have received much international acclaim. Newsweek, National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation, Art in America, CBS News Sunday Morning, PBS's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, the Martha Stewart Living television show, House and Garden, Oprah's O magazine, and Country Home magazine are among the hundreds of media organizations that have celebrated the quilts and the history of this unique town.

Art critics worldwide have compared the quilts to the works of important artists such as Henri Matisse and Paul Klee. The New York Times called the quilts "some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.

"We're excited to host the Gee's Bend women on our campus," said MVC President Bonnie Humphrey. "The brilliant and dynamic quilts created by these women represent their heritage and we're honored to have them on campus and in Marshall."

A reception for the artists will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Ferguson Center R. Wilson Brown Room on the MVC campus. No reservations are required and the event is free and open to the public. For more information about the Gee's Bend Quilt Artists, visit

Related story:

Country Patchwork Quilt Guild to show Gee's Bend quilts:

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  • The quilters and their work are internationally known and celebrated. They deserve our highest degree of courtesy and respect. Let's honor ourselves at the same time we honor this art form.

    -- Posted by Craw4d on Wed, Sep 9, 2009, at 3:09 PM
  • The quilters and their quilts are coming to Marshall because of more than a year of hard work by Norma Jeane Ferguson, co-chairman of this year's Country Patchwork Quilters Show, and the support of many individuals and businesses in Marshall. None of the quilts will be displayed at the MVC reception, which is but one small part of their activies during the several days they will be in town. Several of the quilts can be seen during the show at the Salt Fork YMCA Saturday, Sept 26, 9 am to 5 pm, and Sunday, Sept 27, 10 am to 5 pm.

    Y'all come! This is something not to be missed!

    -- Posted by Pragmatist on Wed, Sep 9, 2009, at 3:36 PM
    Response by Eric Crump/Editor:

    -- Posted by SecretAgentMichaelScarn on Thu, Sep 10, 2009, at 8:55 AM
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