Wells, Gussie. (b. Princeton, LA, 1901; active Oakland, CA, 1989)

Bibliography and Exhibitions



AMHERST (MA). Fine Arts Center, University of Massachusetts.
Something Else to See: Improvisational Bordering Styles in African American Quilts.
February 1-March 15, 1997.
44 pp. exhib. cat., 44 color and b&w illus., bibliog., biogs., exhib. checklist. Features 36 outstanding quilts. Text by Eli Leon. Artists include: Roy Atkins, Irene Bankhead, Marble Battle, Laverne Brackens, Sherry Byrd, Willia Ette Graham, Georgia Lee Kidd, Rosa "Honey" Pierre, Rosie Lee Tompkins, Gussie Wells, Arbie Williams, et al. 4to (10 x 10 in.), black pictorial wraps. First ed.

FREEMAN, ROLAND L. (photos).
A Communion of the Spirits: African-American Quilters, Preservers and Their Stories.
Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 1996.
xviii, 396 pp., color plates, index, bibliog. Pref. by David B. Levine. Chronological autobiographical memoir by the photographer / quilt collector author, intertwined with an extensive national survey of African American quiltmakers. The groundbreaking book on this topic, designed to accompany a traveling exhibition of quits, curated by Freeman. Also includes mention of: Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Sonia Sanchez, Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni, Bernice Johnson Reagon, and Faith Ringgold. Includes: Alice Beasley, Adriene Cruz, Nora Lee Ezell who was recognized in 1992 as a Master Traditional Artist; & Gussie Wells; The African-American Quilters of Baltimore; Sacred Sisters and brothers Mentoring Group in Franklin County, Ohio; Dorothy Moore Banks of Richmond, California who uses her quilt to teach African-American history in her classes; Damian Mazloomi & his mother, Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, Anita H. Knox in Tarrant County Texas & Lula Mae Brown & her daughter Ruby Jean Brown in Logan County, Oklahoma. Carole Harris, Jim Smoote, II, Joseph White, Marlene O'Bryant-Seabrook, Gwendolyn Magee, Charlotte Hill O'Neal, Viola Canady, Emma Johnson Russell, and many others. 4to, (10.2 x7.5 in.), red cloth, pictorial d.j. First ed.

LOS ANGELES (CA). California African American Museum.
Traditions in Cloth: Afro American Quilts / West African Textiles.
January 5-March 29, 1986.
22 pp., color illus. Pref. by Lizzetta LeFalle-Collins; intro. by Cuesta Benberry; texts by Maude Wahlman ("Continuities Between African Textiles and Afro-American Quilts.") and Eli Leon. Artists mentioned include: Yellow Bill (a quiltmaker slave), Angelia Tobias, coverlets and quilts by Martha and George Washington's slaves; Elizabeth Keckly, Harriet Powers, Annie Dennis, Emma Russell, Betty Tolbert, Charles Palmer, Gussie Wells, Cara Girard, Arbie Williams, Mary Lue Brown, Cora Lee Hall, Martha Hart Williams. 4to, wraps.

SAN FRANCISCO (CA). Craft & Folk Art Museum.
Who'd a Thought it: Improvisation in African-American Quiltmaking.
December 31, 1987-February 28, 1988.
88 pp. exhib. cat., 94 illus., including 48 mostly full-page color plates, plus 30 reference illus. including photos of the quiltmakers, biogs., notes, bibliog. Texts by Robert Farris Thompson and Eli Leon. A major contribution to the consideration of traditional heritage vs. personal innovation in the African American quiltmaking tradition. Artists include: Irene Bankhead, Cora Lee Hall Brown, Mary Lue Brown, Monin Brown, Sherry Byrd, Charles Cater, Alberta Collins, Odessa Doby, Willia Ette Graham, Emma Hall, Bettie Phillips, Mattie Pickett, Eula Thomas, Angelia Tobias, Rosie Lee Tompkins, Gussie Wells, Arbie Williams, et al. Traveling exhibition. [Review: Ann Barry, NYT, November 16, 1989.] 4to, wraps. First ed.

WINSTON-SALEM (NC). Diggs Gallery, Winston-Salem State University.
Models in the Mind: African Prototypes in American Patchwork.
42 pp. exhib. cat., illus., biogs. with photos of most of the quiltmakers, bibliog. Text by Eli Leon noting numerous parallels between African fabric motifs and familiar American patchwork designs. Quiltmakers mentioned include: Irene Bankhead, Cora Lee Hall Brown, Mary Lue Brown, Sherry Byrd, Charles Cater, Willie Mae Chatman, Laura Jackson Culp, Aurelia Foster, Willia Ette Graham, Ernestine Jordan, Emily Kirby, Carrie Sue Lewis, Rose R. McDowell, Bessie Moore, Dymon Moreland, Bettie Phillips, Mattie Pickett, Lucy Sims, Anny Bell Simon, Flossie Sullivan, Maple Swift, Mary Thompson, Rosie Lee Tompkins, Sarah Turnage (no photo), Johnnie A. Wade, Maudra Walker, Rosalyn Walker (no photo), Gussie Wells, Arbie Williams. [Traveled to: Center for the Arts at Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco, CA, 1994.] 4to, wraps.