Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Connecting with Gee's Bend Quilts 

Apopka Quilt Maker Connects with Gee's Bend Quilts

The crowd at the "Understanding the Quilts of Gee's Bend" Lecture and workshop was diverse and
intimate. Around 20 people, including Farmworker Association of Florida Lake Apopka Farmworker
Memorial Quilt Maker, Linda Lee and her two granddaughters Cinnamon and Cheyenne, in addition to
volunteer Bekah Torcasso-Sanchez, learned some of these fabulous quilts' history and got some hands-
on time working on quilt squares of their own. Along the Alabama River, Gee's Bend is an isolated
hamlet that produced one of the most important contributions to visual art and culture in the United
States. These quilts are unique and stunning, a reminder of just how beautiful quilting as an art form can
be. The workshop opened with a prayer, "rain helps flowers grows, as tears help us to grow." These
words connect to a visceral truth; quilting is about loss, pain, and eventually growth.

All too familiar with loss, Linda passed on more than a skill to her granddaughters working on the quilts,
she passed on strength through story-telling. Just as they re-purpose the scraps of the cloth into awe
inspiring art, quilt-makers reconstruct the trauma in their lives into passion, resilience, and power.

Getting a chance to create their own squares empowered and excited community members who felt 
free to create.  Above are examples of Linda Lee’s quilting talents and her artistic expression of her 
community, her life and the farmworker reality, transforming her life’s experiences into beautiful pieces 
of visual folk art.

Featured Artist Louisiana Bendolph and her mother, Rita Mae Pettway (center) are both Gee's Bend 
Quilters along with Linda Lee’s Granddaughters Cinnamon and Cheyenne.

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