Gee’s Bend: Shared Legacy

Sept. 17, 2022–Sept. 4, 2023 | Through quilts and prints recently acquired by The Huntington, this exhibition celebrates the artistry and cultural significance of work by members of the Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers’ Collective from Alabama. 
Temporary
color block banner for Gee's Bend exhibition
Bendolph's President quilt hangs on gallery wall next to prints of other quilts.

Mary Lee Bendolph's Image of Formal Presidents hangs on gallery wall along with prints of other Gee's Bend quilts. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Deborah Miller Marr.

Detailed close up photo of Bendolph's President quilt

A close up shot of Mary Lee Bendolph's quilt, Image of Formal Presidents, reveals texture, seams, and stitching. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Photo by Deborah Miller Marr.

Multi-colored quilt titled, "Image of Formal Presidents", 2009 by Mary Lee Bendolph

Mary Lee Bendolph, Image of Formal Presidents, 2009. Cotton, 81 × 73 in. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

| © Mary Lee Bendolph.

Red, blue, and cream colored quilt titled, "American Housetop for the Arnetts", 2005 by Louisiana Bendolph

Louisiana Bendolph, American Housetop for the Arnetts, 2005. Color softground etching with aquatint and spitbite aquatin, 36 × 29 3/4 in. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

| © Image courtesy of the artist and Paulson Fontaine Press.

Red, blue, cream, black and white colored quilt titled, "Fourteen", 2014 by Mary Lee Bendolph

Mary Lee Bendolph, Fourteen, 2014. Color softground etching with aquatint and spitbite aquatint, 23 × 23 ¾ in. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

| © Image courtesy of the artist and Paulson Fontaine Press.

Quilt  colored with hues of blue, green and cream titled, "Blues", 2007 by Loretta Bennett

Loretta Bennett, Blues, 2007. Color softground etching with aquatint and spitbite aquatint, 31 7/8 × 21 7/8 in. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

| © Image courtesy of the artist and Paulson Fontaine Press.

Red, white, blue and black quilt titled, " Remember Me", 2007 by Loretta Pettway

Loretta Pettway, Remember Me, 2007. Color softground and hardground etching with aquatint and spitbite aquatint, 28 3/4 × 28 3/4 in. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

| © Image courtesy of the artist and Paulson Fontaine Press.

Multi-colored quilt titled, "Diner", 2004 by Mary Lee Bendolph

Mary Lee Bendolph, Diner, 2004. Corduroy, 71 × 73 in. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

| © Mary Lee Bendolph.

Through quilts and prints recently acquired by The Huntington, this exhibition celebrates the artistry and cultural significance of work by members of the Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers’ Collective from Alabama. “Gee’s Bend: Shared Legacy” will be presented in two six-month installments, each featuring a selection of prints made by Gee’s Bend quiltmakers Mary Lee Bendolph, Louisiana Bendolph, Loretta Bennett, and Loretta Pettway, who participated in an artistic residency at Paulson Fontaine Press in Berkeley, California. The prints were made by pressing their original quilted fabric designs face down on a wax-coated printing plate. The wax captures an imprint of the fabric, including the texture, seams, and stitching of the original. Through this innovative process, the quilt is translated to a printed surface—a new medium to explore and share the quiltmakers’ creativity. Each installment will also exhibit one of two quilts by Mary Lee Bendolph, Diner (2004) and Image of Formal Presidents (2009), which was made as a gift for President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama on the occasion of his historic inauguration.

Gee’s Bend, Alabama is home to one of the most important African American quilt-making traditions in the United States. Quilting began there by the 19th century, when enslaved women sewed quilts for themselves and their families. As quilters passed down memory, skill, and meaning from generation to generation, they developed both individual and collective artistic practices unique to the community. Their works, which have been shown widely in museums over the past two decades, are celebrated for their soft geometries, bold juxtapositions of color, and inventive use of materials.


This exhibition is supported by the Hannah and Russel Kully Fund for American Art and Laura and Carlton Seaver.

  • The Quilts of Gee’s Bend

    In the only photo-essay book about the quilts of Gee’s Bend for children, award-winning author Susan Goldman Rubin explores the history and culture of this fascinating group of women and their unique quilting traditions.

  • Gee’s Bend Spotify Playlist

    four album covers

    Enjoy the sounds of this eclectic mix of songs by artists from Alabama including Odetta, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Dinah Washington, Alabama Shakes, and others. (A free Spotify account is required to access this playlist.)