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Video: While I Yet Live

A trip to Gee’s Bend, Alabama, where masterpieces hang from clotheslines

In Gee’s Bend, Alabama, quilting is a craft with roots in necessity, not artistic intention. Quilts there were first made by enslaved women stitching together fabric scraps to provide warmth for themselves and their loved ones. The tradition continued through the sharecropping era, and many of the women who experienced this ‘slavery by another name’ in their youth, picking cotton in intense heat and surrounded by overt racial discrimination, turned to quilting for a stable source of income, forming a cooperative to sell their wares. Over the ensuing decades, the quilts of Gee’s Bend would, much to the surprise of their creators, come to be celebrated as important folk art, exhibited widely around the US, including at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. Writing about the 2002 Whitney Museum exhibition for The New York Times, the art critic Michael Kimmelman called the Gee’s Bend quilts ‘some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced’, adding: ‘Imagine Matisse and Klee … arising not from rarefied Europe, but from the caramel soil of the rural South …’

Adam D’Arpino writing for Psyche


Director: Maris Curran

Producer: Jon Coplon

Studio: Nightshade Films

Running time: 15 minutes

Email subscribers may click on the title of this post to watch the video.

While I Yet Live (still shot from film)

4 comments on “Video: While I Yet Live

  1. vengodalmare
    June 5, 2022

    I allowed myself to reblog, I hope you don’t mind. Thank you, a beautiful video.

    Liked by 1 person

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