You may have noticed a lot of mention of the Gee’s Bend quilters in your Decatur Public Library. (If you’re not familiar with the story of Gee’s Bend, take a look at this Encyclopedia of Alabama article for a brief overview.) We’ve had our focus on Gee’s Bend this year for a couple of reasons: first, four of the famous quilters will be visiting Decatur – and our library! – this month; and second, we at Decatur Public Library have a fondness for quilts.
How did we manage to get the world-famous quilters to visit? The credit belongs to Decatur City Schools elementary art teacher Beth Young. As part of an arts grant, Beth was able to bring the quilters of Gee’s Bend to Decatur to visit and share their art with her elementary art students. Because she is incredibly generous and gracious, Beth invited other community organizations to take part; we’ve all been working together since May of last year to put together a week of events designed to let as many people as possible visit with the amazing artists of Gee’s Bend.
Naturally, we are especially excited about the Library events and they have already begun! On January 20th we kicked off the River City Read; we hope it will be the first of many. Generous members of our community donated the money to allow us to purchase 44 “pass-along” copies of the book Leaving Gee’s Bend by Irene Latham and we are delighted to say that all 44 copies are now out and about in the community. The idea is that you take a copy, read it, and either give it to someone else to read or return it to the Library; if they are brought back to us we put them out for someone else to take them. We were also fortunate to have Irene Latham here in our Library on January 28th. Ms. Latham was a wonderful speaker and storyteller who shared not only her books but the story behind her story of Gee’s Bend; we thoroughly enjoyed her visit and highly recommend Leaving Gee’s Bend.
Beginning February 1st we have Gee’s Bend-inspired artwork on display created by students in Decatur City Schools. The art teachers from various schools selected the best pieces from their classes and are displaying them here at DPL throughout the month of February. The artwork is located in the display cases inside each Library entrance and you can vote for your favorite until February 14th. We will announce the viewer’s favorites at our Gee’s Bend Meet & Greet, which is our next exciting event!
On Monday, February 15th, the Library will be closed for business in observance of President’s Day. We will, however, have our building open from 2pm – 4pm so that we may welcome the quilters of Gee’s Bend to our Library and our city! This will be a chance to meet the ladies, have them sign any books you might have (click here for a list of purchase suggestions), and enjoy light refreshments. As always, this event is free and everyone is invited. We hope to see you there!