University of Iowa Museum of Art Exhibition

In collaboration with the Fairfield Art Association and the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.



The FACC’s Artist Series event, Harlem Gospel Choir will be performing in the theater on Friday at 7:30 PM and is a great tie-in to the Gee’s Bend Quilts exhibit.

In celebration of “Youth Art Month”, the FAA and FACC have planned for Dale Fisher from the UIMA to visit FHS and do presentations in two of David Kraemer’s art classes. There will be a “hands on” collage project in addition to learning about and viewing the Gee’s Bend Quilts.

“Gee’s Bend Quilts” is the geographically-inspired name for works crafted by a multigenerational group of African-American women that include a combination of traditional forms and innovation. The quilts had a unique historic and stylistic development due to the community of Gee’s Bend’s almost complete isolation from the outside world for the better part of the 20th century. Gee’s Bend, Alabama, is a small, remote, rural community of 275 people (according to the 2010 census).

Historically, the quilts were first created out of necessity and used for warmth. Using whatever material was available to them, the women quilted together. One quilter, Bettie Bendolph Seltzer, recalls the materials her mother and mother’s friends used, “At the start all they was making them out of was old clothes, pants, fertilizer sacks, dress tails, and meal and flour sacks, too.” The women taught their daughters, who taught their daughters. Thus, the quilting community of Gee’s Bend became something of an informal art school, passing down their own forms of beauty.

What started off as a practical necessity has grown into a thriving tradition. The quilts of Gee’s Bend are not likely to decrease in value as the renewed interest in what used to be called “low art” or “craft art.” The style is ever fluid, mistakes are explored not fixed, and there is a group effort behind each masterpiece. Today, Gee’s Bend quilts are hung in major museums across the United States (including The Whitney Museum of American Art and the American Craft Museum) and considered one of the great examples of American art.

“ We are excited about the collaboration between the University of Iowa, Fairfield Art Association and the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center in bringing this exhibit to Fairfield. We look forward to developing this relationship and hosting other collections” says Suzan Kessel, Volunteer Director of the FAA.  The UIMA K-12 School Programs are a free service sponsored by the University of Iowa Museum of Art Education Partners.

quilt images Gees Quilt2