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AU museum to feature quilts

By Staff
The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art in Auburn will present "The Quilts of Gee's Bend" from Sept. 11 through Dec. 4.
The exhibition features more than 60 quilts designed and handmade by African-American women living in the small rural community of Gee's Bend, nestled along the Alabama River southwest of Selma.    
Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, "The Quilts of Gee's Bend" has been traveling in the United States for the past three years. Destinations in its 12-city tour have included The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Newsweek, National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation, CBS News Sunday Morning, the Martha Stewart Living television show, Oprah's O magazine, and Country Home magazine are among the hundreds of print and broadcast media organizations that have lauded the Gee's Bend exhibit.
Founded in antebellum times, the area 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.
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 modern art.  
The quilters worked with fabrics reflective of their everyday lives, such as worn-out work clothes, old denim, grain sacks, corduroy and cotton sheets.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art will host a series of lectures, films and other events celebrating the exhibition. For more information, visit www.julecollinssmithmuseum.com  or call (334) 844-1484.