Mary Lee Bendolph (b. 1935), Strips and Strings (detail), 2003
Cotton and cotton blends, 74 x 49 in.; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation
Instead of following a pattern in her work, Mary Lee Bendolph often uses her intuition: “I say I’m going to cut out a quilt like something I see. I start it, but when I end up, I always got it going another way.” This quilt is an example of one such “my way” quilt, free from the restrictions of a standard pattern. Although a quilt is inherently a ﬂat object, Bendolph creates a sense of depth and perspective on the right side of this composition, where a framed passage seems to recede into the distance.
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.
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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.