Ghost Pockets


Mary Lee Bendolph (American, 1935- ), Ghost Pockets, 2003
Photo Credit: 

Laura Shea

Not On View
Bendolph, Mary Lee
American (1935- )
Place made: 
North America; United States; Alabama; Gee's Bend
Ghost Pockets, 2003
Mixed fabrics including denim, cotton, polyester, and synthetic wool
Overall: 85 in x 72 in; 215.9 cm x 182.9 cm
Purchase with the Art Acquisition Endowment Fund
MH 2017.16

In Ghost Pockets, Bendolph incorporates pieces of her husband’s jeans, complete with their faded patches, still-saturated seams, and the deep indigo “ghosts” of pockets that once held Rubin Sr.’s hands, his tools, and other personal items. She also uses strips of turquoise, pink, and creamy yellow cotton, taken from his pants and shirts.

Created more than a decade after Rubin Sr.’s death, this quilt represents Bendolph’s resistance to a Gee’s Bend tradition: that of burning the clothing of the deceased. Instead, Bendolph saved articles of Rubin Sr.’s clothing to make quilts. “That way,” she said, “you always be with me…you’re always covering me.” The back side of Ghost Pockets has a large strip of red flannel overlaying a multicolored, patterned piece, intentionally giving the illusion of a quilt on top of a quilt.

-Hannah Blunt, Associate Curator, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (Jan 2018)