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Four Elements

Delia Bennett

by Synatra Smith, Ph.D. on 2021-10-14T12:00:00-04:00 in Black Artists | 0 Comments

Quilting matriarch Delia Bennett was born in 1892 and lived in Brown’s Quarters, the southwest region of the historic Gee’s Bend quilting community in Alabama, home to Loretta Pettway, Mary Lee Bendolph, Louisiana Pettway Bendolph, and Martha Jane Pettway. She worked as a tenant farmer for the white Spurlin family alongside her husband, Eddie Bennett. and taught all of her children how to quilt regardless of gender. Her favored Housetop pattern and “empathetic but wildly asymmetrical geometries”[1] are found throughout her quilts and those of her daughters Ella Mae Irby and Creola Bennett Pettway and granddaughters Linda Diane Bennette (Ella Mae’s daughter) and Mary L. Bennett. Creola has reflected on her first steps as a quilter: “When I first started out to making quilts, it was with my mother, Delia Bennett. And when she got her some pieces, we sat down and watched her. Then we decided we would get up and get a needle and thread, too. . . . And we just continued piecing, piecing, piecing, piecing, piecing.”[2] 

Delia Bennett died in 1976. Her granddaughter Linda, who was the last active quiltmaker in Gee’s Bend, died in 1988.


PMA Collection



[1] Beardsley 2002, 334.

[2] Quoted in Herman 2006, 211.



Arnett, William, and Paul Arnett. 2002. “On the Map.” In Gee’s Bend: The Women and Their Quilts. Edited by John Beardsley, William Arnett, and Paul Arnett. Atlanta: Tinwood Books.


Arnett, William. 2006. “Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt.” In Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt. Edited by Paul Arnett, Joanne Cubbs, and Eugene W. Metcalf Jr. Atlanta: Tinwood Books.


Beardsley, John. 2002. “Brown’s Quarters.” In Beardsley et al., Gee’s Bend: The Women and Their Quilts. Atlanta: Tinwood Books.

Herman, Bernard L. 2006. “Architectural Definitions.” In Paul Arnett et al., Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt. Atlanta: Tinwood Books.

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