Rita Mae Pettway
Rita Mae Pettway (b. 1941), known as “Rabbit” was raised by her maternal grandparents, Ed O. and Annie E. Pettway, after the death of her mother when she was four. Hers is a rare example of a family group with surviving quilts by four generations of artists: Annie E. Pettway, her daughter Nellie, Annie's granddaughter Rita Mae, and Rita Mae's daughter Louisiana Bendolph.
Pettway described their techniques, which were adapted to the limitations of space and the sociability of quilting.
The way we used to quilt them, it ain't the way we do it now. I have horses now, but we had the frame; we had four frames, one on each side of the room; tied it up to the rafters. When we got ready to use the frames, we untied them and eased them down to the level we going to sit down to quilt at. When you done for the day, you hash it back up to the rafters. Nellie and Mary Lisa, they quilted with us, too, right in the same room. Piecing them up, you do that by yourself, but quilting, we all did it together.
Rita Mae Pettway’s work is in the permanent collections of the Toledo Museum of Art and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.