The Stanley School Programs Gee’s Bend Quilts collection includes eight excellent examples of quilts made in Gee’s Bend, Alabama. These quilts were handcrafted by a multigenerational group of African-American women, consisting of a combination of traditional forms and innovation. Art historians, collectors, and museum curators have become increasingly interested in quilts in the last fifty years and those made in Gee’s Bend have come to the fore as excellent examples of this art form. Gee’s Bend Quilts have been the subject of major exhibitions in American museums and are collected widely across the country.
In Gee’s Bend quilting started off as a practical necessity, but has grown into a thriving tradition. Women in the community worked together, using whatever material was available to them, and the activity of quilting served as an act of creation and social interaction—with generations passing down their skills and knowledge from one to another. Though geographically remote, Gee’s Bend was touched deeply by historical events including the Civil Rights Movement. Because our teaching emphasizes inquiry and discovery, students will engage with these objects and with the ideas that they represent through dialogue and hands-on opportunities. Through this collection students will directly experience the art and culture of a specific place, and then uncover how changes across American society can alter the fabric of a single community. This collection also presents exciting opportunities for students to develop on their skills in critical thinking and communication skills as they explore issues related to art, craft, and history.
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