Today I had to run to the post office to purchase a money order to issue a refund for my canceled trip to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (I know a money order; well that is what the customer preferred so…). So before I went to the Post Office, I had to run to the bank to get the refund money blah, blah, blah. OK so now I have the money & I on my way o get this damn money order.
When I get to the PO lobby, I was shocked to see how busy it was, I mean the line was almost out of the door. Since I had all of this time to kill while I was standing in line, I started to look around the PO & I spotted a large poster of the Marion Anderson stamp just behind the counter. After I spotted the poster, I started thinking about the stupid urban legend email that I get at least twice a year in the winter/early spring which urges Black folk to purchase the Black Heritage stamps because the PO will not be carrying them any longer & that they are going to be destroyed.
Entering semi dream state while having an internal discussion – For the last 3 years I have to respond to the person(s) who sent me this message & let them know that this is an urban legend & that the PO is on record noting that this is not true (click here for proof). But year after year the same people continue to send this bullshit based e-mail (if you are reading this, please tell you peeps when the message circulates next year). – Leaving semi dream state & ending internal discussion.
So know I have been in line for about 10 minutes discussing the stamp thing internally & now it is my turn at the desk. I walk up & request 100.00 money order then clerk requested ¢95 for the cost of the MO; so I dig in my man purse & realize that I have no money to pay for this. I thought that I had a few bucks, then I thought about the Taco Bell I got the other day with my last few dollars. At this point the only thing I could do was use my debit card: so I did. Then I realized that I needed a stamp too after he completed the MO transaction so I asked if I could use my card to get one & the clerk was like sure but why not just buy a book of stamps instead of charging ¢39, which made total sense. (This is where the story takes off)
So homeboy pulls out these really colorful stamps & asks me if they were OK for me & I replied sure, after all it’s just a stamp right. All of the sudden I had an internal pause & then asked the clerk if those where images of quilts & if there were African American quilts. He replied in the affirmative on both questions then informed me that they had just come out yesterday (08/24/06). After all this, I paid my money, put a really cool stamp on my envelope, dropped it in the box for mailing & headed for my car.
Once I got to my car, I had to have a 2nd look at the stamps & I read that the stamps quilted images are courtesy of the Gee’s Bend Quilters, which I had never heard of. I mean I was really taken by the awesomeness of these images & decided that I needed to find out more about the Gee’s Bend Quilters.
So now I am back at the office online looking for information & was happy to find quit a bit, first starting with the PO who had this on their site about the stamps:
“The American Treasures stamp series is intended to showcase beautiful works of American fine art and crafts. For the 2006 issuance, art director Derry Noyes chose photographs of ten quilts created between circa 1940 and 2001 by African-American women in Gee’s Bend, Alabama.
Noted for their unexpected color combinations, bold patterns, and improvised designs, the quilts of Gee’s Bend are also remarkable for the humble materials with which they are made and the humbler circumstances in which they are born. Until recently, necessity limited the quilters to fabric from everyday items such as flour sacks, old dresses, and worn-out denim and flannel work clothes. Stains, mended holes and tears, faded patches, and seams all became integral parts of a quilt’s design and ensured that the materials, as well as the quilts, told the story of Gee’s Bend. ??
Today outside interest in the quilts of Gee’s Bend is growing. Art historian William Arnett and his son Matt began collecting the quilts in 1997. Their collection-which has been exhibited in museums around the U.S.-resides with Tinwood Alliance, a nonprofit foundation in Atlanta, Georgia, that supports African-American vernacular art.” read more
Back to me:
After reading this information I had to see if these AWESOME sisters had a website which was just one Google away.Their site was quite informative & offered some very interesting information on the Quilters, Gee’s Bend & the art:
Back to Gee’s Bend…:
“Gee’s Bend is a small rural community nestled into a curve in the Alabama River southwest of Selma, Alabama. Founded in antebellum times, it was the site of cotton plantations, primarily the lands of Joseph Gee and his relative Mark Pettway, who bought the Gee estate in 1850. After the Civil War, the freed slaves took the name Pettway, became tenant farmers for the Pettway family, and founded an all-black community nearly isolated from the surrounding world. During the Great Depression, the federal government stepped in to purchase land and homes for the community, bringing strange renown — as an “Alabama Africa” — to this sleepy hamlet.
The town’s women developed a distinctive, bold, and sophisticated quilting style based on traditional American (and African American) quilts, but with a geometric simplicity reminiscent of Amish quilts and modern art. The women of Gee’s Bend passed their skills and aesthetic down through at least six generations to the present. In 2002, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in partnership with the nonprofit Tinwood Alliance, of Atlanta, presented an exhibition of seventy quilt masterpieces from the Bend. The exhibition, entitled “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend,”” read more
Gee’s Bend Facts:
- Martin Luther King Jr. visited and spoke in Gee’s Bend on the eve of the Selma march in 1965; later, mules from Gee’s Bend pulled his casket.
- Traditionally, quilts were hung on clotheslines to “air out” during the spring. Many quilters used this once-a-year public display as an opportunity to discover new ideas for their compositions.
- Gee’s Benders have coined their own terms for common quilt patterns. They call the square-in-a-square Log Cabin pattern by the name “Housetop”; the Courthouse Steps variation is known locally as “Bricklayer.” The Roman Stripes or Fence Rail pattern is, in
- Gee’s Bend, a “Crazy” quilt (no relation to the Crazy quilts made with irregular scraps).
- In 1937 and ’38, the federal government commissioned two series of photographs of Gee’s Bend. The images have since become some of the most famous images of Depression-era American life.
- In earlier years, one of the primary influences on the Gee’s Bend quilt aesthetic was the newspaper- and magazine-collages used for insulation on the inside walls of homes in the rural American South.
Back to me:
One final note, I noticed that no quilts are for sale on the site, so I did send a message to inquire if they were for sale along with pricing information. If I get a response I will update this post!