Profile: Annie Bendolph (1900–1981)

Annie Pettway Lewis Bendolph was an American artist associated with the Gee’s Bend group of quilters. Her work is included in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to which it was donated by the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.

Early Life

In a biographical interview, Bendolph’s daughter Bettie Bendolph Seltzer describes her mother as very tenacious and caring. “I always wanted to be like my mama—hardworking, having something of my own. She was so independent. But I never wanted to have to go through what she went through.” Bendolph’s mother died when she was very young. She had a brother, Timothy Pettway, who sang in gospel choirs in the nearby town of Camden, Alabama. Bendolph married Jacob Bendolph and raised 16 children.

Work

Bendolph’s quilts were made exclusively of utilitarian, recycled materials, such as old clothes and empty sacks. Seltzer recalls, “When I was growing up, Mama made quilts to keep us warm. The ladies then piece their quilts at home and go to each other house to help quilt.” In fact, most Gee’s Bend quilts were made from recycled materials until the Freedom Quilting Bee brought more resources to the community.

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