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Work collaboratively to create colorful quilt pieces and construct simulated quilts. Explore the story of the Gee’s Bend community and how the traditional art form has been shared by many generations from the time of slavery to today.
Organize the students into small groups of 4-5. Show examples of Gee’s Bend famous quilts. Observe how these quilts are different from traditional quilts that focus on symmetry and patterns. What elements of the Gee’s Bend quilts are unique?
Discuss the story of Gee’s Bend with the class. This small town in Alabama has a rich history. Once the site of many cotton plantations, it grew into a tightly knit community. Relatives of those residents were once slaves on those very plantations. Quilt making was a necessity for this community during hard economic times, and the skill has been passed down for at least six generations.
The Gee’s Bend quilts are now recognized as works of art and are featured in American museums, magazines, and television specials. In 2006, a special series of stamps using the images of 10 Gee’s Bend quilts was released.
Students will work in their groups to create simulated quilts in the Gee’s Bend style. Be sure to cover the work area with recycled newspapers before starting. Create sheets of bright colors by coloring white paper with Crayola® Washable Sidewalk Chalk. Press firmly when drawing with the chalk to get the boldest colors.
Then smear Crayola® Washable Fingerpaints over the chalk, covering completely with a generous layer of paint.
Use a flat, broad piece of corrugated cardboard to wipe excess paint from the chalk-covered paper. Swipe evenly in a downward motion with the cardboard to give a lined look to the paint and reveal the colorful chalk beneath.
Allow the paint to air dry before cutting the paper into geometric shapes. Combine the shapes of the students in each group to make one large Gee’s Bend style quilt. Pieces can be glued together onto a large sheet of poster board using Crayola® No-Run School Glue.
Display the quilts around the classroom to share with the other groups.
Focus on historic achievements and positive role models with this collaborative monument making project.
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