Frame: 44 1/8 in x 33 7/8 in x 1 3/4 in; 112.1 cm x 86 cm x 4.4 cm; Sheet: 41 1/8 in x 32 1/8 in; 104.5 cm x 81.6 cm; Plate/Image: 32 13/16 in x 24 1/8 in; 83.3 cm x 61.3 cm
Gift of Renee Conforte McKee (Class of 1962)
Celebrated for her dynamic compositions and skillful use of color in jazz-like syncopated rhythms, Mary Lee Bendolph is considered one of the matriarchs of the deeply-rooted quilting tradition in Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Surrounded on three sides by a deeply curving river, this remote community of African American quilt makers came to international acclaim when their work travelled to major museums in the United States starting in 2002. Over the past decade, Bendolph has collaborated with master printmakers at Paulson Bott Press in Berkeley, California to create fine art etchings based on her quilt patterns. Mama’s Song refers to a hymn of longing and lament that Bendolph grew up hearing her mother sing while quilting—an act of creative renewal in the midst of continuous hard labor.
-Ellen Alvord, Weatherbie Curator of Education and Academic Programs, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (Sept. 2016)