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About Quilts and Gee´s Bend



When I was working with Felicity in Norwich in 2018, I came across books in her living room about textiles of the world and quilts in particular. Growing up in Germany, I had little to no contact with them. I also thought they were not interesting, and I never noticed them in American movies.

That changed then. I was immediately enchanted without knowing what attracted me. So, I started researching and the more I found out about the subject, the more I needed to know.

 

The history of quilts is fascinating. It tells of enormous creative inventions with minimal means, is socially and economically significant and its appearances are ornamental, colorful, geometric, improvised, figurative and narrative.

 

Fabrics can be painted and printed before and after sewing. They can be embroidered, appliquéd, cut out and sewn together again. We can create our own fabrics and surfaces. We can use them to cover ourselves and keep warm. They protect us from too much sun, clothe us, are playful or calculated. Each piece tells something about the maker, is precise in its realization or lightheartedly irregular.

 

When I take fabrics, place them on my lap and sew them together by hand, I feel connected to a world in which it was common to create things by hand. There is something reassuring and reassuring about it. The ways and means are as simple as they are complex, it is necessary to look back to our ancestors to see how our ancestors did it. Many hands over a long time have created the instructions that can be told. They are easiest to learn when we can watch and imitate, in the oral tradition. There is a beauty in the experience of making the instructions usable for me individually, to experience myself in a larger context.

The making and the history of the quilts tell of our human condition. From the beginning of humanity, we have worked primarily with our hands. We understand our world.

 

We quilt together because the process is often collaborative, slow and more enjoyable in community.  We patch to be sustainable with our resources, as an act to remember people and times, to welcome babies, to celebrate important events, to symbolically stitch pieces together when life falls to pieces. We express ideas about our socio-political world with Craftivism. For Gee's Bend, quilting was essential to survival. They have made art history with it, which is interestingly being rediscovered again and again.


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