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Martha Jane Pettway

Center Medallion with cornerstones (detail), 1920s

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About the Artwork

Martha Jane Pettway (1898–2003), Center Medallion with cornerstones (detail), 1920s

Cotton, denim, corduroy, 67 x 72 in.; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Museum purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation

about the artist

During the Great Depression, government representatives learned that Gee's Bend had unofficial leaders, including Little Pettway and his wife, Martha Jane (1898 - 2003), who helped persuade the other families to participate in the New Deal social programs and were among the first to purchase a " Roosevelt" house. Pettway’s quilts reflect this time when Gee’s Bend's Wilcox County was one of the poorest in the country. Quilting In this time of scarcity called for the inventive salvaging of fabric scraps and remnants, including worn-out clothes and feed sacks. Her son Nathan describes:

My mama and them didn't have nothing good to make them quilts out of, but they made quilts for us children. They get old odd stuff, whatever they could find, and make a quilt out of it. It would last a year sometimes, and then us tear it up before the year out.

Martha Jane Pettway’s work is in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Learn more about Martha Jane Pettway here.

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About Our Prints


Souls 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.


Many 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.