Mary Lee Bendolph American

Not on view

Mary Lee Bendolph is one of the remaining Gee’s Bend quilters who was still producing work until very recently. Her work could almost be considered "second generation," since although she learned to make quilts from her mother back in the 1950s, she really came into her own as a quilter in the years after the first Gee’s Bend quilt exhibition in 2002. After seeing the exhibition, she became inspired by the earlier work that had come out of her community. She soon came up with her own design style that refers not only to the traditional Gee’s Bend quilts, but also intentionally to modern abstract art, a correlation that had been made at the time of the Gee’s Bend exhibition.

Through the Arnetts of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, Mary Lee Bendolph formed lasting friendships with Thornton Dial and Lonnie Holley, two of the male artists championed by William Arnett. The museum holds significant works by Dial and Holley that were part of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation Gift of 2014. The three artists had a strong influence on each other--both Dial and Holley eventually used quilts in their works, and Bendolph, who also worked a series of fine art intaglio prints based on her designs (produced by the Paulson Press of Berkeley, CA.), made aquatint designs in their honor.

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