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Bee Gee's

An MFAH exhibit captures quilting heritage and quality that is sew fine

The artists, their community and their work are presented in a way that reinforces the outsider's preconceived notions. The show's accompanying video has contemporary sections that feature women as they sit outdoors doing things like sewing and singing and shelling peas. It perpetuates a pointedly romanticized vision of Southern rural life that is not necessarily inaccurate, but is selective and discounts the individual. The overkill comes in the scene of a pregnant dog running across a country lane. As a rural Southerner myself, I've had my fill of the "stray dog with engorged mammaries trotting down a road" image in film and photography.

Deborah Pettway Young's Roman Stripes variation shows the diversity of the featured quilts.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Deborah Pettway Young's Roman Stripes variation shows the diversity of the featured quilts.

Details

Through November 10; 713-639-7300
Museum of Fine Arts, 1001 Bissonnet

The quilts of Gee's Bend are amazing, but you get the sense there are too many white people patting themselves on the back for presenting the work of rural black women. At the press preview, MFA director Peter Marzio felt compelled to rattle off several Eurocentric exhibitions that had been shown in the space. Marzio had to state that this was where they showed their best art. His comments came as he beamed at the 33 artists bused in from Alabama and arranged in chairs flanking either side of his podium. "This gallery has never looked better," he declared. Viewers will agree.

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