In the year 2000, the Gee’s Bends Quilters came into the forefront of American society. They were “discovered” by someone in the contemporary art world. They were a group of ladies who lived in one of the poorest regions of Alabama. It was a multigenerational community that had been making quilts for their family’s warmth for decades. These quilts were like any other utilitarian quilts that families made. Their used blue jeans, shirts, blankets, work clothes that had been used up for wear but not for warmth. The “special” thing about the Gee’s Bend quilters were that they were vibrant in color, unusual graphics, and abstract in design.
The Gee’s bend quilts went on to be displayed in art museums around the country: Houston, Boston, New York; fetching thousands of dollars in price. These quilts came to be the best representation of African American quilts and the best-selling of ANY quilts that were of this graphic nature. So, dealers would sometimes use any
utilitarian quilt as an example of African American quilts and increase the price to adsorbent levels.
BUT not all utilitarian quilts are African American. If you are from the South and you have family quilts, you know this. In one of the Six-Know-It-Alls recordings, Debby Clooney, pointed this out with many examples of quilts from the North that were NOT made by African Americans. So, Buyer Beware when a dealer advertises their quilts as African American.