Formstorming: Kathleen Zimmerman

This quilt was created by Mary Lee Bendolph in 2002. Titled “Work-clothes quilt” it is made of denim and cotton. The quilt is 97 x 88 inches. Made for personal use from available “work-clothes” material.

I chose one of the Work-Clothes Quilt[s] by Mary Lee Bendolph. This quilt specifically stood out to me because of the rich blues contrasted with the bright red. It really looked like a piece of artwork to me. Formstorming is a process of deliberated thinking for designers to create new material that is unique and not carelessly created. The quilts of Gee’s Bend are a good example of formstorming because the women who created the pieces had no inspiration or influence from outside sources. They solely used their environment and imagination to create their dynamic pieces. With formstoring an important exercise for designers is to create many iterations of one subject. This is exactly what the women of Gee’s Bend did. Their medium is fabric to create quilts, but each quilt has a unique design; no two are alike. They were constantly in the creative process of designing new patterns even if they didn’t realize the art behind the pieces at the time.

The quilt incorporates balance because of its horizontal sections which anchor the piece. The differing sizes, shapes, and colors of the individual sections give the quilt a unique rhythm and make it visually interesting.

The quilt is more geometric rather than organic because of its straight-ish edges and right angles. There are very few curved shapes except for the small darker shapes scattered throughout the quilt. The flower pattern on a few of the sections is more organic; but overall the piece is geometric. In my opinion this quilt is more abstract. It doesn’t represent anything in the real world but is rather different squares and rectangles sewn together to create a cohesive piece. It creates an intriguing abstract pattern because of the different shapes, colors and materials.

The women of Gee’s Bend used the materials and inspiration around them at that moment in time to create the quilts we now see today. This idea of intimacy and personal daily work is in line with the idea of Dailies which, in formstorming, is a “daily creative act”. This daily, relevant and current work inspires the creators continuously. The quilts we see today are a physical piece of the past but also valuable and modern art pieces that we can still learn from.

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