Exhibition

in Bruton / Somerset / United Kingdom
28.01.2023 - 08.05.2023 00:00
The New Bend

Curated by Legacy Russell, Executive Director & Chief Curator of The Kitchen, ‘The New Bend’ travels from Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles to Somerset. The exhibition brings together 12 contemporary artists working in the raced, classed and gendered traditions of quilting and textile practice. The artists featured are Anthony Akinbola, Dawn Williams Boyd, Myrlande Constant, Ferren Gipson, Tomashi Jackson, Basil Kincaid, Eric N. Mack, Sojourner Truth Parsons, Tuesday Smillie, Rachel Eulena Williams, Qualeasha Wood and Zadie Xa.

Their unique visual vernacular exists in tender dialogue with, and in homage to, the contributions of the Gee’s Bend Alabama quilters – Black American women in collective cooperation and creative economic production – and their enduring legacy as a radical meeting place, a prompt and as intergenerational inspiration. This exhibition acknowledges the work of Gee’s Bend quilters such as Sarah Benning (born 1933), Missouri Pettway (1902 – 1981), Lizzie Major (1922 – 2011), Sally Bennett Jones (1944 – 1988), Mary Lee Bendolph (born 1935) and so many more, as central to expanded histories of abstraction and modernism.

Coinciding with the traveling exhibition, the gallery presents ‘Community Lab: Threads of Connection’ – an interactive space that fosters social connections through artmaking, evolving from Los Angeles to Somerset. Alongside a range of practical workshops, the Community Lab provides opportunities to learn more about the Gee’s Bend quilters through an extensive timeline of the Alabama region and documentary provided by Souls Grown Deep.

About Gee’s Bend
The town of Boykin — also known as Gee’s Bend — is an intimate African American community located at the arc of a bend of the Alabama River within Wilcox County, Alabama, United States. The location was originally named for a landowner and slaveholder of the same surname, who in 1816 settled in the area and built a cotton plantation. Many of the residents of the area are descendants of the enslaved people who worked on this plantation. Therefore, they carry shared family names, such as Bendolph, Pettway and Young.

The formation of the quilting tradition of Gee’s Bend rises out of the 19th and 20th Century and carries on to present day where a vibrant network of collective quilters continues to grow and apply their creative practice. In the 1940s, the land of Boykin was sold in plots by the United States Government to local families still living in the Bend. In a complex twist, this made it possible for the Black and Native residents of the area — once subject to the extractive labor and economic practices of enslavement and sharecropping — to gain ownership in part over the same land their families had once forcibly worked within.

The quilts were originally produced for functional purposes and family use. Over time, cooperatives such as The Freedom Quilting Bee (est. 1966 in Rehoboth, Alabama and remaining in operation until 2012) and the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective (est. 2003) were impactful in shaping an alternative economic model that allowed for the quilters to raise funds for their community. The Freedom Quilting Bee also played a key role in political consciousness-raising by encouraging active participation in the drives for voting rights and advocates within the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery. Over time, a dynamic dialogue surrounding their work has expanded to international acclaim and enduring critical resonance.

Gallery hours Tue-Sun 10 am – 4 pm

Exhibition Duration 28 January – 08 May 2023

www.hauserwirth.com

Location:
Hauser & Wirth Somerset
Durslade Farm / Dropping Lane
BA10 0NL Bruton / Somerset
United Kingdom

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