Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Visit to the Black Belt

Mrs. Bentley spent one of her last September days visiting quilters and craftsmen in the Black Belt of Alabama. The entire trip was dedicated to highlighting hidden treasures in Alabama and the promotion of the talent available.

Her first stop was Black Belt Treasures in Camden. This store sells art from local artists including sculptures, paintings, and fiber art. She continued to Gaines Ridge, where she met Betty Kennedy, the owner of the facility. This property has been in her family for years and she now serves dinner out of its kitchen. After lunch, Ms. Kennedy showed the First Lady her own quilt collection.

To travel to Gees Bend, Mrs. Bentley boarded the ferry and took a twenty minute ride over the water. She was able to meet three quilting groups as a part of her final stops in the area. The first group works out of the Nutrition Center and showed the First Lady their progress on their latest project. They concluded their visit in song. The next stop was to see the Gees Bend Quilters. This group has become famous for their quilts and happily told that John McCain even bought some of their work.

The final stop was at the Freedom Quilting Bee, where Rennie Miller spends her time. Ms. Miller shared the rich quilting history of the area and of the Quilting Bee, as she showed Mrs. Bentley around her shop. She told of the need to get younger people involved in quilting and talked about renewing interest in the fiber arts.

Mrs. Bentley enjoyed the day for many reasons, but most of all, because she too is a quilter. Mrs. Bentley hopes that these people carry on their quilting traditions and is honored that they allowed her to visit.

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