African American Quilt Heritage
Nora Ezell (90) winner of a National Endowment of the Arts award for her quilts honoring the life of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights era in Alabama, and the saga of the American Indian, among others. Ezell's quilts were bold statements of creative freedom. A self-taught artist, she used mixed media and vibrant colors, often working without patterns. Nora Ezell, died Sept. 6, 2007, at age 88, in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Life In Legacy - Week of September 8, 2007
NETTIE YOUNG, 92, the last surviving original member of the Gee's Bend quilting bee, speaks about how the CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT was wrapped in the fabric of these quilts. THE FREEDOM QUILTING BEE was born in 1966, during the last years of the movement. "Y'all don't know where I came from, and I want people to know where I came from," she said. "I enjoyed it - I really did. I thank GOD from what I've come through. If y'all don't know what BLESSED is, this is BLESSED."
Mary Lee Bendolf, of Gee's Bend, and her quilt "blocks and stripes" (Photo: Smithsonian Magazine) | In 2002, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) presented an exhibition of quilts from Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times called them “some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.”
Mary Lee Bendolf, of Gee's Bend, and her quilt "blocks and stripes" (Photo: Smithsonian Magazine)
Finding the Beautiful Before Us: When Craft Becomes Art
Gee's Bend Quilt Stamps
QUILTING in AFRICA was largely done by men. In America, quilting was done mainly by female slaves who would often piece scraps & rags given to them or discarded by plantation owners into blankets to sleep on or cover their families in the winter months. (CITATIONS: 1.Life of the Pacific Northwest American Quilters Circle. Tacoma Art Museum Recording. 2008. 2.Kyra. Black Threads Blog. 3.Wahlman. Signs and Symbols. NY: Penguin, 1993)