- Martin Luther King Jr. visited and spoke in Gee's Bend on the eve of the Selma march in 1965; later, mules from Gee's Bend pulled his casket.
- Traditionally, quilts were hung on clotheslines to "air out" during the spring. Many quilters used this once-a-year public display as an opportunity to discover new ideas for their compositions.
- 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"; 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).
- In 1937 and '38, the federal government commissioned two series of photographs of Gee's Bend. The images have since become some of the most famous images of Depression-era American life.
- In earlier years, one of the primary influences on the Gee's Bend quilt aesthetic was the newspaper- and magazine-collages used for insulation on the inside walls of homes in the rural American South.
Gee’s Bend is a small rural community nestled into a curve in the Alabama River southwest of Selma, Alabama. Founded in antebellum times, it was the site of cotton plantations, primarily the lands of Joseph Gee and his relative Mark Pettway, who bought the Gee estate in 1850. After the Civil War, the freed slaves took the name Pettway, became tenant farmers for the Pettway family, and founded an all-black community nearly isolated from the surrounding world. During the Great Depression, the federal government stepped in to purchase land and homes for the community, bringing strange renown — as an "Alabama Africa" — to this sleepy hamlet.
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. The women of Gee’s Bend passed their skills and aesthetic down through at least six generations to the present
SUMMER SESSION: 7/22,29 8/5 from 6-8:30 / $120 plus materials register
FALL SESSION: October 9, 22 and November 6 / 1:30 to 3:00 pm / $120 plus materials / register online
PHOTOS thanks to GEE BEND WEBSITE and flickr Gee Bend pool