Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers at the Royal Academy

Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers at the Royal Academy

Following the first solo exhibition presented by Alison Jacques Gallery, this is another opportunity to see the some of the work by the Gee’s Bend Artists. Visit the Royal Academy, for Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers: Black Artists from the American South, which runs until 18th June 2023. The exhibition comprises work by Black artists from the Southeastern United States bringing together sculpture, paintings, reliefs, drawings, and quilts, most of which will be seen in the UK and Europe for the first time.

Gallery view of Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers at the Royal Academy of Arts. Photo: © David Parry/ Royal Academy of Arts

The Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers are three generations of women artists living in Gee’s Bend, known as Boykin, a remote community situated on a U-bend in Alabama. The artists grew up almost to the rhythm of their mother’s stiching, sitting by their knees. Given the remote location, the artists have developed their own approach to quiltmaking, using material available to them, and creating abstracts and graphic qualities that are revered internationally.

The Quilts of Gee's Bend, John Beardsley, William Arnett, Alvia Wardlaw, and Jane Livingston, published by Tinwood Books, 2002

The quilts of the Gee’s Bend span from 1930 to the present day, often with intergenerational work shown side by side.

As Michael Kimmelman wrote in The New York Times in 2002, on the occasion of a major exhibition of 60 quilts at the Whitney Museum of American Art, first presented at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston earlier that year: ‘the results, not incidentally, turn out to be some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.’

‘Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers: Black Artists from the American South’ exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London in collaboration with Souls Grown Deep Foundation, Atlanta.


To see more of their work – buy the book The Quilts of Gee’s Bend, published by Tinwood Books in conjunction with the exhibition The Quilts of Gee’s Bend organised by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers at the Royal Academy