Art Gallery Talk: Photographer Linda Day Clark Discusses Her Time with the Gee’s Bend Quilters

In 2002, a dream came true for Linda Day Clark. The photographer received a phone call from The New York Times asking her to head to rural Alabama on assignment, to the town of Gee’s Bend to photograph the current generation of female quilters.

“On that first trip I fell in love with the community and the idea of honoring their legacy,” says Clark about the practice that pre-dated the Civil War and which had brought global recognition to one of the most economically depressed regions of the country. “So for 10 years, each spring I would return.  I’d live with the quilter Mary Lee Bendolph and photograph—though I probably spent more time listening than photographing.”

Next Wednesday, March 18, at 2 p.m., Clark visits Lehman College to give a talk about her time in Gee’s Bend. Her lecture—which is free and open to the public—will be a part of the current Lehman Art Gallery exhibition, Linda Day Clark: The Gee’s Bend Photographs. It is a related exhibition to the larger show titled The Gee’s Bend Tradition, a collection of fourteen of the quilts which are celebrated for their bold colors, eclectic mix of geometric patterns and rich place in African-American art history.

“I’ll show images from my decade long series on Gee’s Bend. I’ll try to share something of the intimate exchange I’ve had with the quilters and their families,” Clark says of her untitled talk. “I’ve had the pleasure of spending long hours watching the ladies quilt. And when I go to Gee’s Bend I sleep peacefully under the warmth of their amazing quilts. I love the quilts. But it’s the people that hold my attention.”

Linda Day Clark is currently a professor of photography at Coppin State University in Baltimore, Maryland. She earned an AA from Howard Community College, a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, and a Masters of Fine Art from University of Delaware. Her work has been displayed internationally in galleries and museums, including the Seoul Museum of Art in Korea, The Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C. and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Linda Day Clark: The Gee’s Bend Photographs, The Gee’s Bend Tradition and an accompanying installation of photographs of the community from the 1930s will be displayed through April 24.