Installation view, “The New Bend” at Hauser & Wirth New York 22nd Street. © Hauser & Wirth. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Thomas Barratt
The small town of Boykin, Alabama, also known as Gee’s Bend, has a population of less than 300 people. But within the tight-knit African American enclave, in which many residents are descendants of slaves, a rich tradition of quilting has made the community world famous.
The colorful, patterned, hand-sewn textiles of Gee’s Bend, associated with quilters like Sarah Benning (b. 1933), Missouri Pettway (1902-1981), Lizzie Major (1922-2011), Sally Bennett Jones (1944-1988), and Mary Lee Bendolph (b.1935), tell the stories of community, family, tradition, and art in vibrant style. Today, building on and referencing the textile-art inspirations of Gee’s Bend, a new cohort of contemporary artists is taking quilting in new directions.