Flora Moore (b. 1951), Medallion, 1970s
Corduroy, 82 x 80 in.; National Gallery of Art, Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation
In 1972, the Freedom Quilting Bee, a sewing cooperative based in Alberta, Alabama, near Gee's Bend, secured a contract with Sears, Roebuck to produce corduroy pillow covers. Production of the Sears pillow covers left little room for personal creativity, as labor at the Freedom Quilting Bee was divided to maximize daily output. Yet despite the standardized and repetitive process involved in producing the pillow covers, the availability of corduroy, a fabric seldom used before by the Gee's Bend quiltmakers, stimulated a profound creative response. Leftover lengths and scraps of corduroy were taken home by workers at the Bee. Given to friends and family or bundled for sale within the community, the scraps were transformed from standardized remnants into vibrant and individualized works of art.
Flora Moore was born in 1951 and raised in Rehoboth, Alabama. She went to work in the fields picking cotton until she “got big enough to know what it was about” and completed school as far as the eleventh grade in Gee’s Bend. She became inspired to start quilting as a teenager after watching women make quilts in the home of her cousin Estelle Witherspoon, the birthplace of the Freedom Quilting Bee. Although mentored by Witherspoon and her aunt Willie ‘Ma Willie’ Abrams, Moore remains determined to be guided by her own artistic voice and instincts, epitomizing the ‘my way’ tradition of quilt making, which favors individualism and improvisation over-reliance on an established quilt pattern.
Flora Moore’s work is held in the permanent collections of the High Museum of Art and the National Gallery of Art.
Learn more about Flora Moore here.
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