“Ebullient,” "Eye-poppingly gorgeous," “The most miraculous works of modern art” – these are just some of the words used by art critic Michael Kimmelman of The New York Times when describing the hand-stitched quilts from the Women of Gee’s Bend, an African-American hamlet located in Gee’s Bend, Alabama, an area with a history of economic struggles and isolation.
Since their original debut at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, the Gee’s Bend quilts have appeared at museums across the U.S., including in our facility community in Palatka, Florida. We’re proud to have helped bring the quilts to the Larimer Arts Center through our support of The Arts Council of Greater Palatka and the Rite of Passage Initiative (ROPI), a mentoring group for young girls.
Representing the perseverance of one community through creativity and resourcefulness, bringing the quilts – and the rich history attached to them – to Putnam County was an opportunity to inspire the area’s youth, giving them a perspective into art and culture, according to ROPI founder Angel Duke.
“In a community like ours, young people often don't have the opportunity to access all the resources available to them,” said Terry Hadaway, a Georgia-Pacific public affairs manager in Florida, who spearheaded the effort. “We knew that GP’s support of this project could help make a genuine difference in the lives of young women in our area.”
To celebrate the quilts’ debut in Larimer, Danielle Rena Hicks, an engineer and facility leader, spoke to a large group of young women with ROPI at an opening reception. She shared her personal journey of how strong female role models helped her realize her full potential.
Hicks added, “It’s not who you are or where you’re from; it’s what you do that counts. And the women of Gee’s Bend took what they were given and made something amazing with it. I’d challenge you to do the same.”