Monday, March 2, 2015

QuiltCon 2015: Gee's Bend quilters

Quilters from Gee's Bend at the keynote

It was really special that four quilters from Gee's Bend came to QuiltCon. I attended the keynote which was positively electric. The speakers were Mary Ann Pettway, China Pettway, Gloria Hoppins and Lucy Witherspoon. The mood was uplifting and encouraging and I could feel the room come together on a deep level during their address. They sang spirituals to us to start things off and throughout the address. Their singing and words touched my heart and made me feel accepted and that we should all accept each other as who we are. I have never had someone sing spirituals to us and I'm not a very religious person, but it was moving. It was interesting to hear a little bit about how they grew up and started quilting, and a glimpse into what their life is now like. I need to read more about them.

I love this quilt top and plan to hand quilt it.
Thank you Gloria, China, Lucy and Mary Ann!

The workshop I took with them may have been light on instruction but was deep with encouragement and support. They also started and ended it with singing to us. I cannot adequately put it into words how special that was. It gave me goosebumps. During class, any one of the ladies was more than happy to answer any questions. Just being around Mary Ann, China, Gloria and Lucy was fun. Mary Ann certainly has a great sense of humor. I feel like their approach freed me up in my improv and gave me a sense of confidence because they were so accepting. I tried to work in their style but felt free to do what I wanted my way. There were definitely no rules to follow. I loved every minute of it. I feel blessed to have been able to have that experience.

Thanks to Jennifer Sampou, (yes, the fabric designer!) who gave me some of her new woven fabric pieces that were absolutely meant to be in that quilt. She was in my workshop, along with Monica Solario-Snow and many other quilters whose names you may not know but are equally talented. In particular, I really enjoyed the company of Tricia Royal in both my classes. She was a QuiltCon winner, taking a third place ribbon in Improv. See what I mean? Talent was just everywhere! That lifted me up too!

Even my attendance at the keynote was due to a friend of a friend giving me her spot because she couldn't attend. I cannot say enough that this experience was only what it was because of the people I shared it with.

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