Alabama Makers Programming continued...............................
Funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), AFA's recent programs showcasing Alabama's traditional artists will continue to April 30, 2017. Held in Florence, Livingston, and Jefferson County, these events will support and enhance the work of our partners and represent several important collaborations. The Salt and Pepper Series will be held at The Mane Room, University of North Alabama, Florence. Produced by RadioVizions in collaboration with the Muscle Shoals Music Association, and the Department of Entertainment Industry, UNA, this series will feature the roots of blues music in order to present the influences on W.C. Handy, "The Father of the Blues." For tickets and information click on the logo to the right. Dates include Thursday, Feb. 23, Thursday, March 23, and Thursday, April 27. The third concert features a guest from Georgia, Jontavious Willis, who will also provide an education residency workshop funded through a Traditional Arts Touring Grant from South Arts in partnership with NEA and the Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA).
Alabama Blues Masters: A Tribute to "Birmingham" George Conner
The Magic City Blues Society will partner with the AFA to launch a series dedicated to master artists of the blues tradition. The first event will be at Henderson's in Midfield, Saturday, April 8. Details, tickets, and more information available soon.
Visual Artists and Music Makers will be featured in Livingston.
Partner: Black Belt Museum and Sucarnochee Festival, University of West Alabama
Folk potters, basket makers, and quilt makers will be demonstrating their skills and selling their works of art. Performances will feature some of the great master artists from the region and present the next generation as well.
Learn more about the artists
The grandson of potter Hendon Miller, Allen Ham also trained in his maternal grandfather’s shop in Brent. Originally working alongside his uncle, Eric Miller, and his cousins, Allen contributed during the 1970s and 1980s to the Miller's Pottery workplace located on Highway 5. A full-time employee of the Alabama Department of Transportation, Ham now operates his shop out of Selma.
As a sixth generation potter, he continues the family tradition of producing utilitarian wares, but also makes some beautiful decorative pieces and face jugs.
Steve Miller of Miller's Pottery in Brent, Alabama is a member of a long- standing family tradition that began during the 1800s on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. Steve carries on a pottery business featured in documentary films, books, and articles. The son of Eric Miller, Steve manages the store and studio located on Highway 5.
Vine & Branch Creations are natural works of art by Andrew and Etta McCall, self-taught basket weavers and furniture makers. Using recycled and natural materials, the McCalls have been making their artwork for more than twenty-five years and share their experience with their children so that they can learn the tradition.
To make baskets and furniture, they collect wisteria, grape, and kudzu vines that they twist together by hand. The wood used in their crafts is heart pine lumber recycled from buildings being torn down. By mixing pine and vines, they fashion original works of art that are functional as tables and chairs.
Using local clay to create their pottery, the Millers are known for their glazed stoneware, utilitarian items, and works of art. Once produced to serve the needs of rural customers, their pottery is now sought after by collectors.
The Gee's Bend Collective
Mary Ann Pettway & China Pettway
A member of the Bennett family of Boykin, Alabama, Marlene grew up learning the Gee’s Bend tradition from her mother, Agatha, and other relatives. All of her quilts are still hand-sewn and made of scrap materials. Using clothing from her parents, she created a masterful collection of heirloom quilts. In their memory, these quilts provide comfort to her many brothers and sisters and now, she continues to produce them for the second and third generations.
Mrs. Jones recently taught a workshop on heirloom quilts in Birmingham as part of the Alabama Folklife Association’s programs called Common Threads. In 2015 and 2016, she completed her first year as an instructor in the Folk Arts Apprenticeship program. She will have a display and can tell stories about each quilt and how she made it.
China Pettway and Mary Ann Pettway represent the The Gee’s Bend Collective. While they can often be found at their shop in Boykin, Alabama, these two ambassadors of the tradition are teaching artists, who contribute to workshops at the Alabama Folk School as well as programs at many arts and cultural institutions. They also present at regional festivals. While sewing or teaching Mary Ann and China can sometimes be heard singing spirituals. At some events, you might have the chance to enjoy a special performance.
Well-known as one of the leading singers from the community, China Pettway returned to Gee’s Bend after college. She learned to quilt from her mother, Leola. Her profession is in home health care and in this capacity she enjoys working with the elderly.
The manager of the quilt collective, Mary Ann Pettway graduated from high school and furthered her education by studying book keeping and accounting. After working for a sewing factory for twenty years, she returned to making quilts. Mary Ann is one of the singers of the Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church.
Mary Virginia and
Mary Hicks is a pine needle basket maker from Eutaw, Alabama. She studied under the late Mabel Means. Over time, she developed her own style adding decorative elements and expanding her products to include hats, placemats, and purses.
Her many students include her daughter Annette Jordan, who now joins her mother to sell and present at festivals. Ms. Jordan also assists in teaching the next generation and providing workshops in the schools. They are regular participating artists at the annual Black Belt Folk Roots Festival held in Eutaw for over forty years.
That's Sew Gee's Bend
Tinnie and Minnie Pettway &
Claudia Pettway Charley
That’s Sew Gee’s Bend is a family business and collaboration of Claudia Pettway Charley, her mother Tinnie Pettway, and her aunt, Minnie Pettway. Their hot pads, wall hangings, and quilts are featured around the state and elsewhere. In 2008, they published, Gee’s Bend Experience, Poems and Tidbits About Life by Quilter Tinnie Pettway. Tinnie and Minnie have spent years providing programs in libraries, schools, and cultural institutions, not only showing their quilts, but telling stories about their lives and folkways.
Growing up Tinnie and Minnie completed chores and farmed in the fields alongside their father and brothers, while their mother taught them to quilt. The family sold from their garden, eventually founding the Boykin Mercantile Store. Tinnie and her siblings moved away to Connecticut. Tinnie worked professionally as a nurse. After having her daughter Claudia, she returned home to Boykin where she ran a daycare and operated the mercantile store.
Vine and Branch Creations
Andrew and Etta McCall
Minnie returned home after earning both her Bachelors and Masters Degrees. For over 25 years, Minnie taught physical education and served as a guidance counselor in the Wilcox County School System. Now, she helps run the family land and care for the livestock.
Claudia lives in Pell City with her husband, musician DeLon Charley, and their children.
Mary Hicks and
Mary Virginia and Dannie Pettway are the husband and wife team, "Anvil Forge,” a twenty-year collaborative effort. Raised in Gee’s Bend, Mary Virginia learned to quilt from her mother. Using her own creative vision, she makes quilts that are works of art representing the Gee’s Bend tradition.
As a pair of artists, Mary Virginia and her husband Dannie, who is a certified welder and fabricator, use different materials including wrought iron, wood, fabric, and more. Dedicated to their heritage, they have produced “Airing of the Quilts” events in Boykin, their hometown in Gee’s Bend. They currently reside in Montgomery, Alabama.
A lasting practitioner of a family tradition in making white oak baskets, Estelle Johnson Jackson is the daughter of Sterling Johnson. Along with his brother, R.C. Johnson, Sterling learned to make baskets from his father. During their childhood, the family spent the winter months making baskets used for gathering cotton and sold them for 25 cents each. Johnson taught the craft to his wife Mary Ella and his children. His daughter Estelle worked her day job and then made baskets in the evening to help her parents finish orders.
Auburn University’s Rural Studio architecture program built a basket shop for the family in 2000. Today, Estelle sells baskets at festivals and events throughout the Black Belt region.
In accordance with Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, all programs of the AFA are held in venues that meet these standards. Special accommodations for persons with visual, hearing, and other disabilities will be met upon request. Please contact 205.956.9888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.