A compendium of craft masquerading as art, art masquerading as craft, and craft extending its middle finger.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Nothin but a Gee Thang

What's in the water in Alabama? Maybe I don't want to know. PBS has been broadcasting a documentary on the Quilts of Gee's Bend, Alabama. I haven't seen the documentary yet, but I checked out websites for the 2003 exhibition at the Whitney Museum. There was also an NPR piece on the quilters several years ago. Many of the newer quilts from the area are a bit self-conscious, but older quilts come off as entirely fresh.

One website claims that the collage aesthetic of Gee's bend was influenced by the newspaper collages that residents covered their walls with for insulation. I'm always a bit skeptical of folk art that is held up as a hermetic vision, untainted by the outside world... It would be interesting to see if there is a folk art equivalent of the book "Romancing the Folk", which shows the degree to which American folk music from the 20's and 30's was shaped by the people doing the recording. Even Alan Lomax, who is looked upon as a musicologist, did plenty of tinkering with the music he set out to "objectively" record.


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