Rockford Art Museum is home to the Hager Collection, one of the few art collections solely focused on self-taught African American artists from the southern United States. The collection features more than 100 works by many artists who have become major names in the field of outsider art. Lucy T. Pettway was one of a small group of women from south Alabama who earned critical and popular acclaim—and comparisons to Amish quilters and modern art masters— during The Quilts of Gee’s Bend exhibition, on view at major museums in Houston, New York, Boston, Atlanta and San Francisco in 2002. The quilts and their makers quickly earned worldwide fame for their artistry and the Gee’s Bend Quilters Collective was formed soon after, with Pettway an original member. Most of the members are descendants of slaves from the Gee and Pettway plantations, located in a remote part of southwest Alabama known as Gee’s Bend. Their ancestors later remained in this rural area and worked the land as tenant farmers. Over time the women developed techniques and styles uninfluenced by outside sources, which they passed down generation after generation. Their work reflects several popular styles of quilting, resulting in geometric designs featuring bright colors and bold patterns, creating a unique blend between folk art and modern art.—excerpted from the commemorative centennial edition book RAM 100: Rockford Art Museum, 1913–2013





Constant Pressure