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New SJIMA Showpiece: Conversations with Gee’s Bend
Written By Jennifer Furber. Published on July 10th, 2018.
A few blocks away from The Tucker House Inn is the San Juan Islands Museum of Art. This museum is notably the visual art heart of The Salish Sea and The San Juan Islands. It is renowned for its rotating exhibits that honor a sense of place, authentic expression, and a deep connection.
Currently, a show called Conversations with Gee’s Bend runs through September 3, 2018. Fifteen years ago, quilts created by a rural group of African American women toured the country, and now it has come to Friday Harbor. The women of Gee’s Bend were isolated descendants of slaves. Their quilts weave narratives of deep poverty, civil rights, and African American heritage pride. This is an incredible opportunity to view nationally acclaimed artwork. San Juan Island artist and Conversations with Gee’s Bend show curator Annie Howell-Adams has also incorporated artists from around the country whose work resonates with the patterns and strong narratives of the Gee’s Bend quilts.
One artist that stands out in the show is Hurricane Sandy survivor Laura Petrovich-Cheney. Her work Hurricane Remains uses the materials left behind: floorboards, exterior siding, roof materials, cabinets, furniture, and framing materials. These storm-saved wooden remains are used to create wooden textile wall hangings. “Anything I could find that evoked life before the storm,” says Artist Laura Petrovich-Cheney on her wooden quilt.
Artist Melissa Averinos’ quilt My Brother’s Jeans was the 2016 Best in Show at Quilt Con. The denim fabric in the quilt is from the artist’s Averinos’ brother Michael’s work jeans. The jeans were rescued from a dumpster after his 2009 suicide. For the compilation of the quilt, the artist was drawn to the stained, tattered, and torn parts of the jeans.
The artworks in this show showcases narratives of hardship, loss, and intense struggle. However, the works are beautiful and rich in color, pattern, and artistry.
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