Essie Bendolph Pettway (born 1956), the only daughter of Mary Lee Bendolph and Rubin Bendolph, began quilting at the age of eight. Although trained by her mother, Essie developed a distinctive style and was producing accomplished quilts while still in her teens. She has worked for many years making uniforms for the armed forces. Her highly practiced sewing skills enable her to tackle complex quilt patterns and introduce subtle optical effects into them. Over the years she also has created a number of quilts that incorporate camouflage patterns from her day job. Essie is among the last women in Gee’s Bend to continue practicing her craft. She has been a featured quiltmaker in the exhibitions The Quilts of Gee’s Bend; Gee’s Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt; and Mary Lee Bendolph, Gee’s Bend Quilts, and Beyond.
Born 1956 in Gee's Bend, Alabama.
Creation Story: Gee’s Bend Quilts and the Art of Thornton Dial, First Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, Tennessee
Mary Lee Bendolph, Gee's Bend and Beyond Tour, The Paine Art Center & Gardens Oshkosh , WI (Traveled to: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia , Halifax Nova Scotia; Museum of International Folk Art Santa Fe , NM; Cultural Resources Commission Tallahassee , FL; Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, MO)
The Architecture of Gee's Bend Quilts, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN; Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, FL; Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD; Tacoma Museum of Art, Tacoma, WA; Speed Art Museum, KY; Denver Museum of Art, Denver, CO; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA)
The Quilts of Gee's Bend, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA (Traveled to: Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University, Auburn, AL; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, TN; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI; Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, AL; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX)