The Impact of the Gee’s Bend Quilters’ Faith on QuiltCon
Tonight the Gee’s Bend Quilters gave the keynote address at QuiltCon. I felt a bit embarrassed when someone in the audience asked them if the quilts they saw at QuiltCon would have an impact on their quilting or change it in anyway. Mary Ann Pettway simply answered “No,” which I thought was an honest reply to an extremely awkward question.
(edit – I personally found the question uncomfortable because of what I didn’t hear in it, a respectful understanding that their work has a certain visionary integrity that comes from within. I think many contemporary quilters, myself included, are overly influenced by exterior factors, design/color/fabric trends and what other people are making. An open ended question would have been better put, something like “What are your impressions of the quilts you have seen at QuiltCon?” Wondering about their take on our quilts is certainly valid – and I suppose that was the gist of the original question – the way it was put felt awkward to me.)
Shouldn’t we instead be asking the reverse question? How will our exposure at QuiltCon to the Gee’s Bend Quilters’ faith as the source of their creative process change the way we make our quilts, or our perceptions of what quilting is all about. What are your thoughts? Not only did the Gee’s Bend Quilters give the keynote to hundreds of attendees, they taught two workshops a day. If you were at QuilCon will the witness of these women impact your quilting on a personal level in any way? Do you think it will shape the Modern Quilt movement as a whole in any way? And if so so how?
The Gee’s Bend women reminded me that quilt making comes from the heart, and that it’s a gift of grace. It was profound to experience quilting as a spiritual matter through their songs, prayers, stories and blessing of permission to “just start sewing” – that we can make things our own way – and it is good.
And in timely fashion here’s a recent article in the NY Times about the quilters and quilts of Gee’s Bend.
Patchwork Doodling Workshop
You can see by these images that this group of students made my job easy today. They just went to town and did their things! The output and diversity was quite impressive. Again, this was the first time I’ve ever taught this workshop and I discovered that everyone does indeed doodle differently.
We began class by doodling for a few minutes and then discussed the process of drawing responsively. The way people doodled varied vastly and it was and in a way wasn’t surprising at all when these differences came out in their patchwork doodles. People doodle with patchwork much in the same way they doodle with pen and paper.
It was also interesting to see when and how the process kicked in for people, how far they could take things until they got stuck, what kind of things got them stuck and what kinds of things they could do to become unstuck. I loved watching the Patchwork Doodling process unfold in my students as much as I enjoyed watching their patchwork doodles take shape.
Improv Handbooks Are Back IN STOCK
Yay! One more day of signing books at QuiltCon. Pick your copy up today. Text your best friend who’s at QuiltCon and ask them to stop by the Stitch Lab Booth #216, and bring you back a signed copy!