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...jen o'connor's...Artful Adventures & Daily Inspirations

I Love Art, Adore the Handmade and Treasure the Vintage. I am the Fun Mom, the Silly Friend and the Writer who wants to make more room for beauty in the everyday.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Boards and the Bend

Diane Allison's new work reminds me just how much I love the graphic appeal of her boards; they have long reminded me of quilt patterns. How wonderful that she is working to celebrate the unique history of Gee's Bend and its quilters with a new series of game boards created in their honor...

The bold and graphic designs in the quilts of Gee’s Bend, blend ingenuity with flair and a quilting tradition cultivated though six generations of quilters native to the all-black community in which they were wrought. Much like an inland island, Gee’s Bend is a small rural town is tucked into a curve in the Alabama River southwest of Selma.

It thrived for many years without much outside influence, and in doing so, developed its own traditions and craft forms – most notably in the realm of textile art. The town’s women developed a distinctive, bold, and sophisticated quilting style based on traditional American (and African American) quilts, but with a geometric simplicity reminiscent of Amish quilts and modern art.
Gee’s Benders have coined their own terms for common quilt patterns. They call the square-in-a-square Log Cabin pattern by the name "Housetop" (shown above); the Courthouse Steps variation is known locally as "Bricklayer." The Roman Stripes or Fence Rail pattern is, in Gee’s Bend, a "Crazy" quilt (no relation to the Crazy quilts made with irregular scraps).

The women of Gee’s Bend passed their skills and aesthetic down through at least six generations to the present. In 2002, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston presented an exhibition of seventy quilt masterpieces from the Bend. It is from this internationally acclaimed exhibit, subsequent books on the exhibit, the US postal service stamp… that so many of us fell in love with the quilts and their signature style. The exhibit was shown at the Whitney other prestigious museums on its twelve-city American tour .

Here is their "Bricklayer" pattern...Art critics worldwide have compared the quilts to the works of important artists such as Henri Matisse and Paul Klee. The New York Times called the quilts "some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced."

I am thrilled to announce that Diane Allison has launched a new series of game boards inspired by, and paying homage to, the quilters of this community. I am smitten with the graphic appeal and color play of Diane’s work and the wood is a wonderful vehicle to share the Gee’s Bend tradition. There are three boars in the series to date...above is "Work Clothes"...a limited edition of 25 pictures next to the quilt shown in the book that inspired Diane.

Here is the board Diane has done as the second in the series. She calls it Gloria, named for a Gee's Bend quilter, and it's an edition of almost sold out. I love the red and gold.
If you can, do catch the exhibit on the textile arts of Gee’s Bend
Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt
Mary Lee Bendolph, Gee's Bend Quilts, and Beyond. You can see
the official Gee's Bend website for a full exhibit schedule, along with more info on the history of the Bend and background on the source of inspiration for the quilters and more.
This board is called Loretta and it's my favorite in the series. My Grandmother was named Loretta and I have a wonderful niece Loretta (she's the one that named the "Secret Lab"). This board is another limited edition celebrating the Bend and the quilters. I love the whirls of color and rectangle blocks. The contrast of the eggplant and orange sings to me.
You can see all of Diane’s new boards... celebrating the Bend – as well as her other creations – on our website. And if you do order, mention this post for free shipping as a thanks to our blog readers.

xxoo Jen
Earth Angels


Melissa said... eyes are spinning. Just love these graphic pieces and the back story. Always a treat to stop by!

cheryl kuhn said...

What amazing talent Diane has to bring those wonderful quilts to life in a totally different medium and then make them just as beautiful as the originals. I love how she is honoring the past and the women who crafted the quilts. Bravo!

jennifer lanne said...

I truly believe that one day Diane's boards will be featured on the Antique Road Show worth mega $$$$$.
I'll have mine buried with me!

thanks for the history lesson......

Theresa said...

Wonderful blog on the Gee Bend quilters.... it's so nice to see someone inspired by their work. Keep painting those beautiful boards Diane. :)



purple cucumbers folk art said...

Hi darling,I saw the Gee's Bend Quilt.Did you know my MaMa and her family had cabins down below where they made the quilts .Paradise Point is just off of Gee's Bend Road.My MaMa made quilts by hand.It is so nice to see something from home here in Alabama.The quilts and the Point are way off of the road where you turn at Alberta,theres a real old barn across the street,once you turn off,its a old country road then Paridise Point is a old dirt road.Well were headed to the V.A Hospital for my sons surgery.He has only been home several weeks.Thanks for showing the Quilts.

kb said...

I just ordered my first Diane Allison Board from Jen and I am so excited!!! Can't wait to receive it.

Happy Birthday Diane Allison. You are a blessed artist.

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