Arsnl Art has announced its latest exhibition, Generations, featuring a collaboration between generative artist Anna Lucia and the Quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. 

Generative artist Lucia writes algorithms to generate artwork, often combining mathematics and computer science concepts and systems with traditional crafts such as textile work. Her work has been included in exhibitions at Art Basel (2022) and the 2022 Venice Biennale, among others. Weaving traditional textile techniques with modern technology, she aims to create a space where logic and creativity collide, looking for connections with female textile artists who have been overlooked throughout history. 

Gee’s Bend is known as the home for the emergence of African American-style quilts, which tend to include striking colors, strip-piecing, and abstract designs. In the 19th century, enslaved plantation workers in Gee’s Bend, isolated from outside influences and lacking in other resources, created their quilts in geometric patterns out of old pants, cornmeal sacks, and other found fabrics. Nearly all of the 700 residents of Gee’s Bend, Alabama are descendants of the enslaved people that worked the land — many bear and share the slaveowner’s last name: Pettway. 

During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, many Gee’s Bend residents asserted their right to vote. In retaliation, authorities cut off the ferry that connected Gee’s Bend to the nearest town across the Alabama River. This led to the participation of the Gee’s Bend quilters in the Freedom Quilting Bee, a women-led workers’ cooperative that brought in money and strengthened the community. Every quilt sold by the Gee’s Bend Quilt Collective is unique and individually produced.

Today, the quilts of Gee’s Bend can be found in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and many other museums. In addition to this, these quilts have been collected extensively by prominent museums, inspiring high-profile homage from official First Lady portraiture to acclaimed runway shows. 

Despite this, the artists themselves still face the social and economic aftermath of the Antebellum South. Generations attempts to foster a dialogue between the handcrafted quilt and its digital ‘twin’ through the blockchain, conveying an essential artistic history and disrupting the centuries-old cycle of Black culture appropriation by enabling enduring attribution and equitable exposure to the value created by the works.

Lucy T. Pettway, Birds In The Air, 1975 (left).
Generations, Anna Lucia, 2023 – Inspired by Lucy T. Pettway, Birds in the Air (right).

In Generations, Anna Lucia uses computer algorithms to craft a series of digital quilts inspired by the iconic patchworks of the Quilters of Gee’s Bend. Embracing the polyrhythmic call-and-response style of Gee’s Bend quilts, the quilters shared their process with Lucia, who in turn created an algorithm to generate digital quilts that share key elements with their source, while remaining unique and surprising in their own way. 

The sale will include up to 500 digital artworks, as well as legacy quilts by Loretta Pettway Bennett, Essie Bendolph Pettway, and Mary Margaret Pettway, daughter of Lucy T. Pettway, and a new unique physical quilt by Margaret Pettway as a response to an output generated by Anna Lucia. 

Digital and physical works will be available for purchase May 18th, at noon. Original digital works can be chosen to be hand-quilted by Mary Margaret Pettway.


NFTs & Digital Art Projects