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The women of Gee's Bend deliver again

The women of Gee's Bend responded in a letter to the magazine, saying the exhibition had changed their lives. "It has brought hope and renewal to dozens of African-American women artists here. We have been treated with dignity and respect for the first time in our lives...About the time Thelma Golden was born, women from Gee's Bend -- quilters -- were marching in places like Selma and Camden to demand basic human rights. When the white people in our country wanted to make us feel uncomfortable about that, they put us in jail, bull-dozed our homes or evicted us...We wish [Golden] had bothered to become informed before stooping to cry her tears for us. She might have learned we don't require any pity."

I'm not about to enter that fray, but I will note that the MFAH seems to have offered up its own response to Golden in the current exhibition, by means of an example: a 2003 housetop variation by Loretta Pettway.

Although several of her works were featured in the first show, Pettway quit quilting 20 years ago because of bad health and depression. She didn't attend the first ten museum openings, but with the help of her friends, she started sewing again, and the quilt on display is one of the first ones she made after her recovery. Complete with rainbow patterns and red polka dots, it's a bright, lopsided beauty, an expression of newfound freedom.

Created after the first exhibition, Mary Lee Bendolph's work-clothes quilt contains signs of self-awareness.
Stephen Pitkin, Pitkin Studio, Rockford, Illinois
Created after the first exhibition, Mary Lee Bendolph's work-clothes quilt contains signs of self-awareness.

Details

Through September 4.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7300.

Of pure joy.

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