Arden Theatre Company presents the Philadelphia premiere of Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder's Gee's Bend, directed by Eleanor Holdridge.
Featuring three determined women and interwoven with gospel music, Gee's Bend is a deeply personal story of family, self-discovery and artistic expression. This production coincides with the exhibition of Gee's Bend, The Architecture of the Quilt, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on display now through December 14.
Gee's Bend spans more than sixty years and three generations of women and embraces their stories of joy and heartbreak. The story begins in 1939. Born into poverty and hardship, Sadie Pettway, learned to quilt at her mother's side. While it was a domestic responsibility to quilt, the women of Gee's Bend also turned to quilting as a comfort from the harsh realities of racial indignities, spousal abuse, isolation, and despair.
In the 1960s, an Episcopal priest recognized their talents and commissioned a group of women to make quilts for Bloomingdales, Saks' Fifth Avenue and other large department stores. These quilts were well-crafted, but of standard design. Still undiscovered were the women's personal collections, the wildly individual, dynamic and expressive quilts of the women of Gee's Bend.
That all changed in 2002 when the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the Tinwood Alliance of Atlanta organized "The Quilts of Gee's Bend" exhibition. Since then, the women and their quilts have been featured and celebrated throughout the nation and described by The New York Times as "some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced."