Quilt by Lucy Mingo of Gee's Bend, 1979 (Collection of Bill Volckening)
The isolated rural community of Gee’s Bend in Boykin, Alabama, is populated by the descendants of African American slaves, and since the 19th century has been the source of some of the most inventive and spectacular of American quilts.
In contrast to the formal geometry of traditional quilts, the quilters of Gee’s Bend are inspired by the weathered buildings, broken paths, and rambling fences of the isolated area and create vivid, abstract works that echo the energy and syncopation of Alabama jazz. Their works have been showcased in museums and hailed as miraculous works of modern art.
The day covers the history of the Gee’s Bend quilting tradition and community through images and recorded oral histories, followed by a Gee’s Bend-inspired quilting project.
Students should bring fabric scissors, hand-sewing needles, straight pins, and a thimble (if you like). Most importantly, bring a garment (preferably a shirt) to be cut up and distributed among the group.
In the spirit of Gee’s Bend, bring your own lunch, along with something to share with your fellow quilters.
Limited to 14 participants.
Instructor: Lauren Kingsland
One 5-hour session
"My quilts looked beautiful to me, because I made what I could make from my head. …When I start I don't want to stop until I finish, because if I stop, the ideas are going to go one way and my mind another way, so I just try to do it while I have ideas in my mind." —Loretta Pettway, quilter
Smithsonian.com reports on the history and the contemporary legacy of quilting in Gee’s Bend. Be sure to view the gallery of quilt designs that share the bold colors and forms of abstract art.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)