For the first time ever, as part of a partnership between the Souls Grown Deep Foundation and Community Partnership, Etsy, and the nonprofit Nest, the quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, are now offering one-of-a-kind creations for sale online. The initiative, which launched today on Etsy, features pieces by nine Gee’s Bend Quilters, including Caster Pettway, Emma Mooney Pettway, Loretta Pettway Bennett, and Lue Ida McCloud.
The small, rural community of Gee’s Bend has been home to the creation of vibrant, abstract fabric works for generations, and many of the quilters working there today have ancestors who were enslaved at the Pettway plantation. The quilters selling pieces on Etsy will receive 100 percent of the profits from the sales, and Souls Grown Deep, whose work has included placing historical Gee’s Bend quilts in the collections of major art institutions, has established a local resource center for photography, postage, and handling of the items on offer.
Maxwell Anderson, president of Souls Grown Deep Foundation and Community Partnership, told ARTnews that the initiative is intended to “foster economic development” for quilters in the community. He explained that this distinguishes it from Souls Grown Deep Foundation’s work with the Gee’s Bend quilters, through which the foundation aims to “get the creative achievements of the past—and in some cases the present—into the canon of art history.”
The offerings on Etsy range in size and scale, but most of the pieces on sale are new, handmade creations. Each quilter has established their own channel on the e-commerce site, and some of the items currently available include throw quilts and patchwork face masks. Among the pieces are large-scale quilt by Caster Pettway, on sale for $1,660; a tapestry quilt by Doris Pettway Hacketts for $47.40; and a two-layer mask by Loretta Pettway Bennett for $15.