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Four Elements

Louisiana Pettway Bendolph

by Synatra Smith, Ph.D. on 2021-08-05T12:00:00-04:00 in Black Artists | Comments

African American quilter Louisiana Pettway Bendolph was born in 1960 in Gee’s Bend, Alabama. As was tradition for the women in her community, she made her first quilt at age twelve under the tutelage of her mother, Rita Mae Pettway, and her great-aunt, Nellie Pettway, following the death of her great-grandmother Annie E. Pettway who had also been a quilter. In the early 1980s, Louisiana Bendolph relocated to Mobile with her husband, Albert, son of Mary Lee Bendolph. She stopped making quilts at this time but was inspired to resume after visiting the opening of Quilts of Gee’s Bend at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 2002, where she accompanied her mother and mother-in-law. While Louisiana Bendolph has explained that she gave up making quilts because she had neither the time nor the necessity since her home in Mobile had central heating, Mary Lee Bendolph has speculated that her daughter-in-law stopped because she was no longer physically in the community where quilting operated as a competition. Following her visit to the exhibition, “I saw quilts flashing in my mind,” said Louisiana Bendolph. “I tried to put them out of my mind, but I couldn’t.”[1] Because quilts now served a less utilitarian purpose for her, she developed her own way to adapt the tradition of recycling old fabric for quilts: she began to make quilts with new fabric and then cut them up to give them a second life as new quilts. Louisiana Bendolph is recognized for her architectural style in which her designs are abstracted representations of housetops. In 2005 she and Mary Lee Bendolph worked in Berkeley, California, for two weeks to turn their quilt designs into limited-edition prints.

 

PMA Collection

PMA Library

 

Notes

[1] Arnett 2006, 39.

 

References

Arnett, Matt. 2006. “Wrapped in the Blanket of Time.” In Mary Lee Bendolph, Gee’s Bend Quilts, and Beyond. Edited by Paul Arnett and Eugene W. Metcalf Jr. Atlanta: Tinwood Books; Austin, TX: Austin Museum of Art.

 

Cassel Oliver, Valerie. 2019. “Louisiana P. Bendolph.” In Cosmologies from the Tree of Life: Art from the African American South. Richmond: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

 

Cubbs, Joanne. 2006. “The Life and Art of Mary Lee Bendolph.” In Mary Lee Bendolph, Gee’s Bend Quilts, and Beyond. Edited by Paul Arnett and Eugene W. Metcalf Jr. Atlanta: Tinwood Books; Austin, TX: Austin Museum of Art.


 


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