Formstorming: Lexi Day

The work of the Gee’s Bend women is an example of formstorming because it incorporates repetition that changes, and creates a way to view the base for exploration of unconventional design.

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Log Cabin style quilt from Gee’s Bend resident Mary Elizabeth Kennedy; 1965. Found on Gee’s Bend Quilt 

For the quilt design I liked best, I’ve chosen the “Housetop -Single Block- Log Cabin Variation” created by Mary Kennedy in 1965. I like how the quilt contains both a light and a dark side, and the border contains contrasting colors. Even though the women have no formal training and very little schooling, they seemed to unconsciously understand a sort of sense of design and rhythm that has been incorporated into this quilt. It is also very geometric, since it is entirely made out of rectangles and two small squares in the middle. Knowing the history behind Gee’s Bend, this feels mostly unintentional. Though Kennedy says she does enjoy the Log Cabin structure, the women of the economically poor town were only able to use small scraps of clothing and other fabrics to create their designs, which were originally in order for survival and staying warm. The quilt also contains a nice set of balance, as the white and dark are almost perfectly divided down the middle. The quilt is also very abstract rather than representational. It contains no “real” areas to the design, though it could remind someone of the wood beams above an old log house. It is entirely made of shaky lines and the colors only have a mild cohesion. There is repetition, where Kennedy kept the geometric lines lined up, relative from the dark side to the light side. These women learned to quilt as it was passed down from mothers and grandmothers, and that shows in a powerful way through their work. The fraying edges of the overall quilt also show that the fabric they used was rough and old, making all of the designs even more powerful.

 

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