As part of a partnership between Macy’s and the Souls Grown Deep Foundation and Community Partnership, reproductions of the quilts of Gee’s Bend, Alabama are available for purchase online and in select Macy’s department stores.
Percentages of the profits will be used to support individual artists including Lucy Mingo, Loretta Pettway, Louella Pettway, Lucy T. Pettway, and Stella Mae Pettway, as well as the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, Inc.
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Considered to be major contributions to African-American and American art history, the colorful abstract fabric pieces have been produced within the small, rural community of Gee’s Bend for generations. Many of the quilters working there today descend from enslaved people who worked on the former cotton plantation established by Joseph Gee in 1816 and taken over by Mark H. Pettway in 1845.
The quilts have been the subject of a few exhibitions at such institutions as Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They are in the collections of more than 20 leading art institutions and have been sold in the past for up to $60,000 by dealer Nicelle Beauchene.
“This Macy’s collaboration is another way for the Gee’s Bend community to support itself and amplify the voices of its quiltmakers, each of whom receives a significant biographical write-up on the packaging of the bedding,” the press release states.
The Macy’s run includes six different designs on patchwork quilts and pillows, ranging from $80–$480. While the quilts are only available in limited quantities, they hope to expand nationwide.
This is not the first time Gee’s Bend quilts have been sold to support the quilting community. Last year, the Souls Grown Deep Foundation partnered with Etsy and the nonprofit Nest to sell new pieces online.