In Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal…, the first comprehensive survey of the award-winning artist’s career, Thomas examines popular culture, and how art can raise awareness in the ongoing struggle for social justice and civil rights.
Today, we’d like to share an activity based on his work South Bend that you can do at home.
The title South Bend is a reference to a group of female quilters in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, who have received recognition both within their community and the art world for their beautiful quilts. Here the artist uses cut-up college basketball jerseys to create the popular “broken dishes” style of quilting, which uses a half-square triangle pattern. What are some patterns in quilts you have seen before? What do you think of when you see basketball jerseys?
Gee’s Bend women made quilts to keep themselves and their children warm in unheated shacks that lacked running water, telephones, and electricity. Along the way they developed a distinctive style, noted for its lively improvisations and geometric simplicity. This could have also been influenced by the isolation of their location, which caused them to use whatever materials were on hand, often recycling from old clothing and textiles. Do you have any quilts in your house? What do they look like? What are they made out of?
The finished product will look similar to this:
Written by Kimberly Ly, Crystal Bridges art instructor.
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