Annie E. Pettway
Just a mile or so down from the crossroads that marks the heart of Gee's Bend is the neighborhood known as Sodom. It includes a rare example of a family group with surviving quilts by four generations of artists: Annie E. Pettway (1904 - 1972), her daughter Nellie (b. 1940), Annie's granddaughter Rita Mae (b. 1941), and Rita Mae's daughter Louisiana Bendolph (b. 1960).
Rita Mae testifies to the transfer of skills from generation to generation. “I learnt all of what I know from growing up watching my grandmother. I watched her cook, had to learn to wash on a rub board, learn to use a smoothing iron.” In her family, quilting was something done in the winter when all the other jobs were finished, and it was very much a family affair. “Onliest thing we did after everything else was done, we sit by the fireplace in the wintertime and piece up quilts. Me and my grandmama Annie.” She confirms that much of her grandmother's work was done by eye: “She didn't have no pattern to go by; she just cut them by the way she know how to make them.”
Annie E. Pettway’s work is in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.