The Quilts of Gee’s Bend

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Hailed by The New York Times as “some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced,” the quilts of Gee’s Bend make San Francisco the final stop in their widely acclaimed nationwide tour.

The Quilts of Gees Bend features a selection of more than 60 quilts made by four generations of African American women who inhabit a strip of land formed by a deep loop in the Alabama River, about 30 miles from Selma. Descended from slaves and isolated for decades by geography, poverty, and government indifference, the women of this community assembled quilts of astonishing artistry. Described by one reviewer as “eye-poppingly gorgeous,” the quilts were pieced from scraps of fabric often salvaged from worn-out clothes combined in extraordinary combinations of color, pattern, and texture. In design, the quilts are equally remarkable. Bold geometric shapes, dramatic shifts in scale, and an improvisational approach to the way the fabrics are assembled produce abstract compositions more akin to the rhythms of jazz and African art than to the order and repetitiousness of many traditional American quilts.

Some of the examples from this marvelous collection will be rotated in September so that the work of each of the quilters can be represented. A videotape featuring interviews with some of the quilters of Gee’s Bend as well as photographs and related material will be on view in the main textile gallery and the nearby Textile Education gallery throughout the show.

Prints by Gee’s Bend artists on view in Textile Education Gallery

A series of prints made in the softground technique by two of the Gee’s Bend artists, who worked directly from quilts pieced specifically for this purpose, will be on view in the textile department’s Textile Education Gallery. The prints seamlessly translate the striking graphic nature of the Gee’s Bend quilts in another medium. In addition, the Education Gallery will feature in its study drawers a variety of quilt-making materials, techniques, and styles drawn from a number of different cultures.


The Quilts of Gees Bend has been organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Tinwood Alliance, Atlanta. The exhibition is sponsored by Kathy Hull and Bill Gisvold, the Ross Auxiliary of the Fine Arts Museums, and the Textile Arts Council.

Currently on view