Gee's Bend, Rosie Lee Tompkins and Improv Quilts
A workshop talk with Carolin Kropff.
This workshop talk is dedicated to the pioneers of improv quilting, the women of Gee's Bend, the great Rosie Lee Tompkins, and how we can create textile surfaces through intuitive, non-systematic cutting and recombining.
07. 12. 2022

17-19 h
2 euros.

Registration is required.

There are fascinating combinations of ways to make a quilt, and there is an inherent connection of quilts to people, ways of making, time, and stories. My investigation into material-based ways of creating colorful surfaces by sewing and cutting textiles came across the work of Gee's Bend and Rosie Lee Tompkins, who now have a cult following.

There are fascinating combinations of ways to create a quilt, and there is an inherent connection of quilts to people, ways of making, time, and stories.
My investigation into a more material-based way to create colored surfaces by painting (or dyeing, printing, sewing) and cutting textiles (such as canvases or those already worn by someone) came across the work of Rosie Lee Tompkins.

Wikipedia about Gee's Bend:

The quilts of Gee's Bend are quilts created by a group of women and their ancestors who live or have lived in the isolated African-American hamlet of Gee's Bend, Alabama along the Alabama River. The quilts of Gee's Bend are among the most important African-American visual and cultural contributions to the history of art within the United States. Arlonzia Pettway, Annie Mae Young and Mary Lee Bendolph are among some of the most notable quilters from Gee's Bend. Many of the residents in the community can trace their ancestry back to enslaved people from the Pettway Plantation.[1] Arlonzia Pettway can recall her grandmother's stories of her ancestors, specifically of Dinah Miller, who was brought to the United States by slave ship in 1859.[2]

Rosie Lee Tompkins was synonymous with Effie Mae Howard (1936-2006. In the 80s of the 20th century, quilt collector and psychologist Eli Leon (1935-2018) discovered her quilts at a flea market in North Oakland and supported her from then on.
Rosie Lee Tompkins is widely regarded today as one of the most masterful and inventive quiltmakers of her time. Meanwhile, her work is no longer viewed only in the context of quilting but is established as art.
She constructed her patchwork pieces, which she did not quilt herself, from new and used fabrics ranging from velvet, felt, denim, and faux fur to glitter and polyester fabrics. In addition to the variety of different fabric qualities, the patterns also consist of a variety of seemingly improvised blocks, such as the Half Square Triangle, the Medallions and Log Cabin, in addition to appliqué, yoyos and embroidery, all freely and seemingly effortlessly connected. The colour contrast is vivid. Embroidered are numbers and biblical texts. She also picks up on contemporary events that were often connected to the lives of the African American population of the United States.
Effie Mea Howard was not interested in publicity, which explains her choice of a pen name. She was very religious and believed strongly that God guided her hand in her work.

Improv quilts are characterized by their free arrangement and variety. They are not necessarily associated with a design, but evolve from the improv quilt and develop as the quilter cut and sews it.

With the kind support of the Kulturamt Frankfurt.