Fallen Through The Cracks

Fallen Through The Cracks – Black Artists in History: Annie Pettway Lewis Bendolph

Fallen Through The Cracks – Black Artists in History: Annie Pettway Lewis Bendolph

Fallen Through The Cracks – Annie Pettway Lewis Bendolph

Annie Pettway Lewis Bendolph

#FallenThroughTheCracksAnnie Pettway Lewis Bendolph was born between 1892 and 1900 in rural Alabama. She was a textile artist and one of the esteemed quilters of the Gee’s Bend Quilters collective, a group of African-American women who gained international recognition for their unique quilting style and craftsmanship. Her mother passed away when she was a young child. She had one sibling, Timothy, who sang in gospel choirs in the neighboring town of Camden, Alabama.

She comes from a community with a rich quilting heritage and her skills have been passed down through generations. Annie married Jacob Bendolph and raised 16 children many of whom became prominent quilters including Bettie Bendolph Seltzer. Many families often had their distinct styles, patterns, and designs. Bendolph’s quilts were made exclusively of utilitarian, recycled materials, such as old clothes and empty sacks.

Annie Pettway Lewis Bendolph, Photo by Arthur Rothstein, 1937.
Pettway Family Group, Photo by Arthur Rothstein, 1937.

Bendolph employed an improvisational approach to quilt-making piecing together various fabric scraps without relying on predetermined templates. The quilts contain vibrant color palettes which contribute to the impact and energy of her works. Exercising a departure from classical quilt making, adopting a more minimalist quality influenced by the isolation of her location and materials available. She has played a significant role in preserving and promoting the quilting tradition of Gee’s Bend. Her work is included in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Annie Pettway Lewis Bendolph passed away in 1981.

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