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Lucy T. Pettway

Housetop and Bricklayer with Bars quilt

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Harlem Renaissance
Discover works from the groundbreaking exhibition The Harlem Renaissance and Transatlantic Modernism, which explores the comprehensive and far-reaching ways in which Black artists portrayed everyday modern life.

About the Artwork

Housetop and Bricklayer with Bars quilt, ca. 1955. Lucy T. Pettway. Top and back: cotton and acetate. Gift of Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection, 2014. © 2022 Lucy T. Pettway / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

This mid-century quilt is based on the “Bricklayer” pattern and on the “Housetop” design—favorites among Gee’s Bend artists—both of which comprise concentric squares of gradually enlarging scale. The work is a testimony to the ways in which the local environment, including its architecture and landscape, played a direct role in Gee’s Bend quilt design: although it is a variation upon a common quilt pattern, the work is also an abstracted map of the Pettway plantation. The quilter used blocks and strips to represent the former slave cabins surrounding the “big house,” the dirt roads and paths, and the river on one side and the fields on the other.

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