Wednesday, February 2, 2011

black history month

February is Black History Month in Canada and the USA.

I drove down to London, Ontario, with a friend last summer to see an exhibit of the famous Gees Bend Quilts,


Gees Bend is a rural community located at a curve in the Alabama River southwest of Selma, Alabama. The community was often isolated by flood waters of the river and consequently their art developed in a very specific way.

China Pettway's quilt.
I loved listening to her talk
about her childhood stories and hearing her sing!
This quilt is made of old, used, washed-out  jeans.
 As she laid in her bed shared with her 8 siblings,
China remembers the view of the ceiling-the rafters, beams and the holes.
She could see the night sky.
This is her 'housetop' quilt.

Rita-Mae said she cut up her red, christmas table cloth to add to her quilt because it was just the right red.

"I hope no one asks to borrow my table cloth this year!"

The community's work has caused art critics to reassess their definition of art. These women did not go to art school. They did not see exhibits in museums and were not influenced by established artists. Yet their work is reminiscent of modern art. It has often been compared to works of 20th century painters, from Paul Klee to Henri Matisse to Frank Stella.

What is an artist?

I am an artist.

What makes you an artist?

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