Born in Gee’s Bend, a small, black community in Alabama, Mary Lee Bendolph is a well-renowned visual and textile artist among the older generations of Gee’s Bend Quiltmakers. Gee’s Bend quilts communicate the rich cultural history of African American quilting, often incorporating recycled clothes and fabrics to convey greater ideas of identity expression. Bendolph incorporates geometric strips of fabrics and clothes into her quilts to create dynamic, natural, and colorful compositions.
Bendolph was born in 1935 and continues to live in Alabama. In 1999, she was the subject of “Crossing Over,” the Los Angeles Times’s Pulitzer Prize-winning article about the effort to reestablish ferry service across the Alabama River. Her work has been shown at U.S. embassies and museums around the world, including Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK; The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, among others.