Gee’s Bend Strategy


I was looking up quilts as an example of a rich cultural tradition and came across the Gee’s Bend Freedom Quilting Bee. They became well known a few years back when they were “discovered” by a collector and a big museum show was organized. Here is the basic description from the Voices of Civil Rights website:

One cultural gift from Gee’s Bend’s civil rights work was the Freedom Quilting Bee, a rural collective that produced quilts for eastern department stores. For 30 years, the Quilting Bee provided employment for local black women who lost work when they took a stand and registered to vote. In the late 1990s, the Quilting Bee ended, for the most part; many of the key participants had either died or grown infirm.

It reminded me of something I heard recently about how a lot more troops would be deserting from the war if there were support structures in place for them and their families. A realistic assessment worth thinking about, and the Quilting Bee offers an historical example. For that matter, how do we begin organizing alternative economic structures for all of us, so that we can disengage from the economic death machine of global capitalism and the fascist police state supporting it?

The interview with two of the quilters on the website is also very good as an example of ordinary folks standing up for themselves and making their reality. For us artsy types it also cuts through all the crap of the fine arts / folk arts dichotomy to demonstrate that art comes from the soul not the “art world” and can be fully engaged with the lives of its creators and audience.

here is a quote from the interview:

The quilts you made during the civil rights years now hang on the walls of great museums. There’s a quilt of yours, Mrs. Young, at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington that looks like pure modern art. Its title is “Milky Way.” Where did you get the idea for it?
Young: You know, we didn’t live in airtight houses. We lived in our houses where air could come through, and you could look at the roof and see the stars. That’s why our mothers learned us how to make quilts because that was our way to keep warm.

This quilt you’re talking about, it’s a patch of stars. I don’t know whether you all ever seen them in the sky? Someone told me their name was “Milky Way,” and I sighted them and decided I would make me a quilt and call it “Milky Way.” I drew it from my mind.

check out the rest of the website here.

One Response to “Gee’s Bend Strategy”

  1. counterstr Says:

    pre teen pageant gown

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