Gee’s Bend Quilters, Mali mud-cloth makers in residence at UAB

See and feel living art Nov. 7-11, when artisans from Alabama and Africa create a masterpiece at the Alys Stephens Center.


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Experience the beauty of living art when UAB’s Alys Stephens Center presents the quilters of Gee’s Bend and Groupe Bogolon Kasobane, mud-cloth masters of Bamako, Mali, in residence at the center Monday through Friday, Nov. 7-11, 2011.

The residency, Common Threads: Quilters of West Alabama Meet Mud Cloth Makers of West Africa, was developed by the Alys Stephens Center and ArtPlay Teaching Artist Sharrif Simmons. “Common Threads” showcases the artistry of two of the world’s most vibrant contemporary textile traditions. The artists will work side by side on their art pieces during the course of the week in the ASC lobby, 1200 10th Ave. South.

The residency will feature a week of events and activities, free and open to the public, as part of the Alys Stephens Center’s World on Stage Festival. Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, and 11:30 a.m. until the closing ceremony at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11. Call 205-975-2787 or visit for a full schedule.

asc_commonthreads_malimudcloth_storyGuided tours, hands-on quilt-making activities, lunchtime discussions and special events Monday-Thursday will explore each art form and the artists who practice it, the similarities between the arts, and cultural memory patterns included in both groups’ artistic expressions. Visitors also can watch each day as local quilters weave the “Our Alabama Stories” quilt into a piece of art — each square of the quilt will be submitted by Alabama quilters.

Lunchtime lectures from noon-1 p.m. include local quilter Majella Hamilton; Irene Latham, author of “Leaving Gee’s Bend”; artist/interpreter Janet Goldner along with Groupe Bogolon Kasobane, who will discuss the history and cultural significance of mud cloth as an art form; and the quilters of Gee’s Bend as they share the history and social impact of their quilting tradition.

asc_commonthreads_geesbendquilt1Each day, Monday-Thursday, see films and documentaries about both groups: “The Quilters of Gee’s Bend” by Alabama Public Television at 10:45 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and short films and documentaries from and about Mali at 1:15 and 4 p.m. Monday-Thursday. All screenings are approximately one hour.

A panel discussion, “Connecting Our TransAtlantic Cultures,” will take place at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. On Thursday, enjoy a happy hour event at 5:30 p.m. View the artists at work, discuss the traditions of each art form and listen to live music reflecting the project, performed by poet and musician Simmons with special guests. There also will be a cash bar, drink specials, prize giveaways and more. Experience the culmination of the week’s work, with live music and closing comments from those involved in this very special project, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11.