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Loretta Pettway

"Bars" work-clothes quilt (detail), 1970s

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Loretta Pettway (b. 1942), "Bars" work-clothes quilt (detail), 1970s

Cotton, denim, twill (pants legs), 88 x 85 in.; Souls Grown Deep Foundation

In many ways, the aesthetic of Gee’s Bend quilts evolved in response to the nature of the materials at hand. As Loretta Pettway explained, “I made all of my quilts out of old shirts and dress tails and britches legs. I couldn’t never get no good fabric to make quilts, so I had to get the best of the old clothes my peoples wore or old clothes I got from other peoples. I get the best of the shirt sleeves or whatever part of the pants wasn’t wore out, like the back of the pant legs, ’cause the knees mostly be wore out—we pick the cotton on our knees.”

about the artist

In her youth, Loretta Pettway (b. 1942) had many Pettway quiltmaking mentors—including Missouri, Louella, Qunnie, grandmother Prissy, and stepmother Plummer T.—but she has kept to herself artistically throughout her adult life. Although she disliked sewing as a child, she pieced her first quilt with her grandmother’s encouragement when she was eleven. Her earliest surviving quilts are made of everyday clothing, especially men's work clothes.

As a teenager, Pettway gravitated toward the "Bricklayer" pattern, popular among her relatives and neighbors in Pettway.

My husband, Walter, he worked at Henry Brick and he brought home two picture boards of bricks. I liked them and tried to copy them. I always did like a ‘Bricklayer.’ It made me think about what I wanted. Always did want a brick house.

In 2006, two of Pettway’s quilts appeared on U.S. postage stamps as part of the American Treasures series. In 2015, she received a National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the United States government's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Her work is held in numerous permanent collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Learn more about Loretta 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.