Art Museum to Present Companion Exhibits to Gee’s Bend Quilts

Created in the isolated African-American hamlet of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, a unique style of handmade quilts was discovered by the art world in the 1960s.  These Gee’s Bend quilts have been exhibited at galleries and museums around the country, among them the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, SC. The museum currently displays  Gee’s Bend:  From Quilts to Prints, until April 23, an exploration into the art of making prints based on traditional Gee’s Bend quilt designs.

Gee’s Bend quilts also inspired a 2008 children’s book by Patricia McKissack, titled Stitchin’ and Pullin’ a Gee’s Bend Quilt, illustrated by New York-based artist Cozbi Cabrera. Nearly two dozen of these illustrations are featured in a companion exhibit to the Gee’s Bend quilts, titled Stitchin’ and Pullin’: Painted Illustrations by Cosbi Cabrera. Along with Cabrera’s paintings are several handmade dolls and quilts created by the artist, and a miniature replica of a Gee’s Bend dogtrot cabin by Georgetown artist Woody Gruber. To enhance the intimacy of the exhibit, the museum has designed a reading nook for children.  Stitchin’ and Pullin’ will be on display from Jan. 10 – April 16.

Cozbi Cabrera, An Understanding Will Come Later (detail), 2008, acrylic, private collection

McKissack’s book and Cabrera’s illustrations tell the story of the community of Gee’s Bend quilters through the eyes of a young child, as the women work together, sharing stories, songs and their common history as they “stitch and pull” thread through cloth.
In addition to her work as a commissioned artist and children’s book illustrator, Cabrera is currently an Artist in Residence at the Lincoln Center’s Manny Cantor Center (New York City), where she conducts a collaborative quiltmaking workshop to a diverse community of Anglo, Hispanic, Hassidic, African and Cantonese speakers.
A third exhibition, The Fabric of Our Collection, will open Feb. 11 and will feature works from the Art Museum’s permanent collection that reference fabric, either by medium, subject matter or style. These will include Burgess, the Legacy, a photo-collage quilt by Carolynne Miller; Carl Blair’s oil-and-wax painting Appalachian Spring; Jonathan Green’s oil painting African Memories, which depicts a woman in straw hat moving between line-hung quilts, and other fabric-related works. Fabric will remain on display through April 23.
Gallery hours for all three exhibits will be from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 – 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission to the museum is free at all times but donations are appreciated.

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