In the small, remote, historically black community of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, four generations of African American women produced patchwork quilts that elevated these practical forms into masterful works of intentional art. Born of resourcefulness and made with fabric scraps salvaged from worn-out clothes, these handmade quilts evolved into marvels of textile design.

These interconnected artists, bound by geographic isolation and a shared history of enslaved ancestors, experimented with bold geometric shapes and an improvisational design technique that has likened to African art and the improvisational rhythms of jazz. Now widely displayed in museums around the world, the quilts of Gee’s Bend have become beloved, important chapter in the history of American art.

Behold five extraordinary examples of the work of quilt makers from Gee’s Bend quilt at NOMA. These works are recent acquisitions made possible through the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, a community partnership dedicated to supporting African American artists from the South.