“Flower Garden” by Arlonzia Pettway: June Collection Highlight

High Museum of Art
Jun 21 · 2 min read

Arlonzia Pettway — one of the legendary quilters of Gee’s Bend — captures the exuberance of a garden in bloom in this bright, textured quilt.

In 2003, quilts made by women working in Boykin, Alabama — known as Gee’s Bend — caused a sensation when they were exhibited across the country in major museums, including the High Museum of Art.

The High began collecting the quilts of Gee’s Bend at that time, but in 2017, a milestone acquisition from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, which included this vibrant Flower Garden quilt by Arlonzia Pettway (American, 1923–2008), quadrupled the Museum’s holdings of Gee’s Bend textiles.

Brightly-colored quilt depicting rows of flowers and a band of diamonds at the bottom.
Arlonzia Pettway smiles while posing in a red polo.
Arlonzia Pettway (American, 1923–2008), Flower Garden, ca. 1975. Learn more about Arlonzia Pettway’s art and life on the Souls Grown Deep website.

In the video above, Katherine Jentleson, Merrie and Dan Boone Curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art, discusses Pettway’s use of fabrics that were difficult to work with, including corduroy to make the patches and borders of the quilts. Corduroy became more widely available in Gee’s Bend after many quilters including Pettway participated in the Freedom Quilting Bee sponsored by Sears, Roebuck in nearby Alberta, Alabama, in 1972. Pettway preserved leftover corduroy to use in future quilts like this one, mastering the difficulty of working with this stiff fabric.

See Flower Garden on view on the Wieland Pavilion Skyway Level, Gallery 407, where a wide array of approaches to still life by artists both trained and untrained are presented. The work is one of over 18,000 in our rotating collection. They’re all here for you!

This is just one of over eighteen thousand artworks in our collection. The High is your place for digital content!

Interested in Folk and Self-Taught Art?
Mark your calendar for the High’s upcoming exhibition Really Free: The Radical Art of Nellie Mae Rowe (September 3, 2021–January 9, 2022).

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