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Lucy T. Pettway

Born in Gee’s Bend in 1921, Lucy T. Pettway was the fourth of fourteen children and worked in the fields most of her youth, picking cotton, corn, peanuts, sugarcane, peas, and millet. Though she was sporadically educated, she learned to piece and sew at age 12 and made her first quilt the following year. She was subsequently trained by her mother and other skilled quilt makers in Gee’s Bend.

Gee’s Bend, a small rural community situated on a bend on the Alabama River, was named for a 19th-century cotton plantation owner, Joseph Gee. The quilting tradition of the area, originated by slave women, is celebrated for its innovative geometric designs. In 1845 Mark Pettway bought the plantation. Many of the Gee’s Bend artists are descendants of his slaves and carry the Pettway name.

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