Gees Bend Response

Swarthmore College Exhibition: A Response to Gees Bend was a selection of 12 Quilters from the U.S. asked to respond to the legendary improvisational quilters of Gees Bend Alabama. I was honored to be selected for that exhibition that ran in concert to the exhibition of pieces from Ms. Mary Lee Bendolph.


My Quilt, “Front Porch Windows”,  is a tribute to the places where my Grandmother, Ms. Adla Phillips-Mardis, quilted in the later years of her life and where I learned to piece during alternating Summers. Ms. Adla quilted her tops alone, by hand  on her front porch. The frame was lowered by rope from the rafters to a metal rocker in front of the living room windows. Her piecing was done mainly in the living room, looking out of that same window and listening to the radio. When her husband, my Grandpa Herman Mardis, passed in 1977 she moved into their bedroom and pieced nearly one hundred small and medium quilts that she sold for $25-$40 over the next twenty years as her income. I learned her ways and craft sitting at her feet in both rooms and watching the world through those windows but hearing her stories and her praises to God. In this quilt I hope that I have captured the essence of that time and of that gracious, giving, loving woman who gave me patterns she saved from the weekly newspaper to practice on between our visits and started me on my path. The quilting is in 96 undulating lines for each year of her life.