Image: Annie Mae Young, Bars c.1965 (detail). (c) Stephen Pitkin, Pitkin Studio.
An upcoming exhibition at the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate, UK, will feature works from the world-famous Gee’s Bend quilters alongside paintings and sculptures by African American artists from Alabama and the surrounding states. According to the gallery, We Will Walk – Art and Resistance in the American South is the first exhibition of its kind in the UK, dedicated to art shaped by the Civil Rights period of the 1950s and 60s.
The artists represented in the exhibition lived through the Civil Rights struggle and its aftermath, often in conditions of poverty. Their art is characterised by the remaking and reuse of materials through necessity, custom, culture and innovation as well as a connection to place and nature. The exhibition also features Civil Rights music and documentary photographs that reveal the links between the art and its context.
Produced from the mid-20th century to the present, many of the artworks will be coming to Europe for the first time; the series of Gee’s Bend quilts in the exhibition have not been displayed in the UK before. These iconic quilts have a distinctive style and are often made from recycling old clothing such as blue jeans.
Image: Mary Lee Bendolph, Basket Weave Variation (c 1990). (c) Mary Lee Bendolph/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
The selected artists and makers include: Mary Lee Bendolph; Hawkins Bolden; Beverly Buchanan; Sheila Pree Bright; Thornton Dial; William Edmondson; Ralph Griffin; Bessie Harvey; Lonnie Holley; Ronald Lockett; Joe Minter; Nellie Mae Rowe; Emmer Sewell; Mary T Smith; James Son Ford Thomas; Bill Traylor; Freeman Vines; Annie Mae Young; Dinah Young and Purvis Young.
Image: Nellie Mae Rowe, The World is Not My Home (1979).
The exhibition was conceived by the artist Hannah Collins, who spent three years researching and developing the show, having encountered the work of these artists and makers in the American South. As lead curator, she is joined by curator Paul Goodwin, Professor of Contemporary Art and Urbanism at University of the Arts London, whose interest is in fugitive art practices and place.
For more information visit turnercontemporary.org