Mary Lee Bendolph American, b. 1935
THE QUILTS AND PRINTS OF GEE'S BEND
The women of Gee’s Bend, a small rural community in southwest Alabama, are celebrated for making exquisite abstract quilts. Based on skills and an aesthetic passed down through several generations, the quilts have been highly praised for their raw beauty, bold geometry and sophisticated color sense. The New York Times called the quilts some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.
Mary Lee Bendolph and her daughter-in-law Louisiana, both native Gee’s Bend quilters, have created colorful etchings that reflect the same great quilting tradition. Each of the prints is the translation of an actual quilt sewn by one of the Bendolph women. Working collaboratively with master printers, Mary Lee and Louisiana were able to capture in amazing detail the stitching and textures of the used and worn fabrics in the original quilts.
Some of these unique etchings were made from small quilts sewn specifically for the purpose of creating the prints, and some were made from previously sewn quilts from home. Using a technique called softground, each quilt was laid on a copper plate coated with beeswax to produce an impression of the quilt. Next, the soft ground was etched in acid, transferring the impression of the quilt piece to the copper plate and recording all the seams, textures, and nuances of each different fabric.