Sunday, January 24, 2021

~ MMGM THE QUILTS OF GEE'S BEND ~

~ MARVELOUS MIDDLE-GRADE
MONDAY NON-FICTION FEATURE~
--  'THE QUILTS OF GEE'S BEND' --
AUTHOR SUSAN GOLDMAN RUBIN
~Post Includes:  Book Spotlight, Author Bio,
Links to Photos of Gee's Bend quilts &
My Thoughts~
    



ABOUT THE BOOK {from Goodreads}:

Since the early nineteenth century, the women of Gee’s Bend in southern Alabama have created stunning, vibrant quilts. In the only photo-essay book about the quilts of Gee’s Bend for children, award-winning author Susan Goldman Rubin explores the history and culture of this fascinating group of women and their unique quilting traditions. Rubin uses meticulous research to offer an exclusive look at an important facet of African American art and culture.
 
In the rural community of Gee’s Bend, African American women have been making quilts for generations. They use scraps of old overalls, aprons, and bleached cornmeal sacks—anything they can find. Their traditions have been passed down through the decades. Much to the women’s surprise, a selection of the quilts was featured in an exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 2002. The exhibition then traveled to the Whitney Museum in New York City. “Eye-poppingly gorgeous,” wrote a critic for the New York Times about the exhibition. He continued, “Some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art will exhibit its newly acquired collection of Gee’s Bend quilts in 2017.
 
Rubin is known for producing well-researched, highly praised, and sophisticated biographies of artists and other important figures. Through similar research, The Quilts of Gee’s Bend shares specifics about this rare community and its rich traditions, allowing children to pause to consider history through the eyes of the people who lived it and through a legacy that is passed on to the next generation.
 
This book should be of great interest to classrooms, libraries, and those interested in African American art in the United States, in addition to quilting, life in early emancipated colonies in the South, and Gee’s Bends importance in the Civil Right’s movement. The quilts and the incredible stories behind them are powerful motivators for anyone who wishes to accomplish anything. A map, directions on how to make a quilt square, endnotes, and an index round out this stunning nonfiction book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR {from the Author's website}:

Susan Goldman Rubin grew up in the Bronx and dreamed of becoming an artist. She illustrated her first three picture books but then turned to writing nonfiction, mainly about art and history, and is the author of more than 55 books for young people. Her titles include Diego Rivera: An Artist For The People, They Call Me A Hero: A Memoir of My Youth, Music Was It! Young Leonard Bernstein, Everyone Paints! The Art and Lives of the Wyeth Family, and Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi.

Susan has also explored Judaica themes. Some of her titles are Jean Laffite: The Pirate Who Saved America, Haym Salomon: American Patriot, Fireflies in the Dark: The Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and the Children of Terezin, a Sydney Taylor Award Honor Book.

Most recently Susan has created board books based on fine art for very young children. Her titles include Counting with Wayne Thiebaud, Andy Warhol's Colors, and Matisse: Dance For Joy.

Susan lives in Malibu, California, and has been an instructor in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program for 20 years.

PRAISE FOR THE QUILTS OF GEE'S BEND {from the Author's website}:

**STARRED REVIEW**
"A handsome volume to enchant a new generation of readers and artists." - Kirkus

"Combining history, memoir, and quilting, this fascinating portrait of an indomitable community will appeal to readers, artists, and crafters of all ages." - School Library Journal

**STARRED REVIEW**
"Writing with awareness of broad social forces as they affected the residents of Gee's Bend, Rubin offers a concise account of local history while seamlessly weaving quilters' reminiscences of family, community, poverty, and memorable events into an informative narrative. . . A colorful introduction to a uniquely American subject."
- Booklist

LINKS TO VIEW PHOTOS OF GEE'S BEND QUILTS:

I you have a spare moment, I encourage you to check out the two websites below. You will learn more about the quilts and quilters of Gee's Bend and see photos of these vibrant, groundbreaking quilts, visit the following websites:

https://www.arts.gov/stories/blog/2015/quilts-gees-bend-slideshow

https://www.soulsgrowndeep.org/gees-bend-quiltmakers

 

MY THOUGHTS:
As many of you know, as a lover of sewing, quilting, and historical quilts I frequently feature books on these subjects for my Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts.
 
Today I am thrilled to present this special post because I have had the honor of viewing two different exhibits featuring the quilts from Gee's Bend, Alabama, in two of California's top art and history museums--The Haggin Museum in Stockton and the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.
 
Seeing this beautiful work up-close was a memorable experience for me. Viewing these abstract, unique quilts changed my appreciation for this type of handiwork. These women used the fabrics they had on hand, and literally created their own genre of art.
 
Learning the history of this group of talented quilt makers through reading and viewing specials about them on PBS prompted even more excitement about the subject. Then when I located this book in the children's collection of my local public library system, I knew I wanted to study it.
 
For those of you who are not quilters or who may not possess an interest in quilt history, please read on . . . for this book is not only about quilts.
 
This touching narrative is about slavery, share cropping, extreme poverty, illiteracy, the Civil Rights movement in America, marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Selma, voter suppression, and how those issues and experiences led the women spotlighted in the book to create beauty out of everyday clothing items and fabric scraps. 
 
In 1966, sixty of these women joined together to form the Freedom Quilting Bee. This was the first business the African American people in Wilcox County owned. The Bee made quilts, potholders, aprons, and sunbonnets to sell outside of the community. One woman in the book commented that working in the Bee was the only job she had ever had besides picking cotton.
 
In March of 1969 the Bee constructed a sewing center and dedicated it to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Several of the members of the Bee had marched with Dr. King on March 7, 1965, in Selma.
 
The Epilogue includes an update of the quilters, a 'Making a Quilt Square' project with diagrams and stepped-out instructions, Notes, and a Bibliography. 
 
This is an awesome pictorial history of an important segment of the quilting heritage of this region in the twentieth-century blended with the social issues facing this community for centuries.
 
Highly-recommended for classrooms, librarians, families, church/youth groups, and anyone who enjoys learning about the history of diverse cultures.
 



 
Find the links to read more great Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts from middle-grade authors and bloggers at Greg Pattridge's 'Always in the Middle' Blog.

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7 comments:

  1. It's so cool how the women of this community banded together and started quilting together. And it's so cool that you got to see their work up close. This sounds like a great book about the women as well as their quilts.

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  2. Fascinating connection to some troubling times in our countries past.This would be a good choice as supplement in a history class. Thanks for featuring on MMGM.

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  3. This sounds like such a wonderful book! I didn't know anything about quilting's importance to the civil rights movement or African-American culture! I'm so glad that this book is there to shine a light on the incredible artistry and quilting! Wow! Thanks for the recommendation!

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  4. So much history in Gee's Bend. I've heard about the beautiful quilts made there. It also reminded me of a story I reviewed a few years ago, Belle, The Last Mule of Gee's Bend, and the role this mule played in helping the African American community register to vote. Always thought I'd like to visit there. Enjoyed the links you shared.

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  5. I'm a sewer, although not a quilter. I really liked hearing about how these women used whatever they had for their quilts and how this tied into the civil rights movement.
    This sounds like a fascinating book!

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  6. What an excellent-sounding book! I had absolutely no idea about this wonderful tradition, and it sounds like the book captures it and the surrounding context very well. Thanks for the wonderful post!

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  7. What a great story. I hope this gets wide readership with kids. Maybe it will start a new generation of quilters. Thanks for telling me about it.

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