Mary Lee Bendolph (b. 1935), "Housetop variation" (detail), 1998
Cotton corduroy, twill, assorted polyesters, 72 x 76 in.; The Phillips Collection, Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation
In the early 1990s, a former Bend resident living in Bridgeport, Connecticut, sent some garments—double-knit leisure suits—to Gee's Bend. Mary Lee Bendolph remembers: "My sister-in-law's daughter sent those clothes down here and told me to give them away, but didn't nobody want them. That knit stuff, clothes from way back yonder, don't nobody wear no more, and the pants was all bell-bottom. We ain't that out-of-style down here. I was going to take them to the Salvation Army but didn't have to way to get there, so I just made quilts out of them.” This is one of ten Gee's Bend quilts to appear on a U.S. postage stamp in 2006.
One of the best-known and most revered Gee’s Bend quiltmakers, Mary Lee Bendolph (b. 1935), has spent many decades transforming scraps of old cloth into aesthetic marvels. To create her quilts, she tears worn and discarded clothing into simple strips and blocks of fabric, then assembles them into highly refined geometric abstractions. Her genius resides in her ability to invent a seemingly endless variety of complex compositions and astounding visual effects from a rudimentary vocabulary of shapes.
Mary Lee Bendolph’s 1998 “Housetop” variation appeared on a U.S. postage stamp in 2006 as part of the American Treasures series. In 2015 she received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest honor for folk and traditional arts in the United States. Her work is in the permanent collections of numerous museums, including the Dallas Museum of Art; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; High Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art; National Gallery of Art; New Orleans Museum of Art; Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Phillips Collection; The Studio Museum in Harlem; Tate Modern; and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Learn more about Mary Lee Bendolph here.
QualitySouls Grown Deep Custom Prints offers custom reproductions of artworks by Souls Grown Deep artists. Hand-made in the USA using gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.
SelectionMany of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. We are continually adding new artworks to our offering, so be sure to check back regularly as you build your own gallery.