Lot 15

Phyllis Stephens

In Full Bloom , 2022
Quilt with sustainable fabrics
239 x 147 cm/ 94 x 58 in.
249 x 157 cm/ 98 x 62 in. (framed)
Represented by Almine Rech

Estimate: €100,000 - €130,000
Sold for: €94,400
Bidding ended. Lot has been sold.

Born 1955, Phyllis Stephens is a fifth-generation quilt maker who lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. She is considered to be a master of African American story quilts and has quilted professionally for more than thirty years. Stephens is proud to have been a part of the ""Water is Life"" exhibition which opened in 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland and subsequently traveled to France, Italy, Canada, Israel, Mexico and the U.S. Her work has been shown at museums such as The National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky considered to have one of the world's top quilt displays as well as the National Museum of Ghana in Accra. In 2010, Stephens was awarded a resolution by the Georgia House of Representatives for her print portfolio, For Crying Out Loud, a tribute to the Children of the Civil Rights Movement. Notable collectors of Stephens's work include Ric Lewis, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Oprah Winfrey, Arthur Lewis, Samuel L. and LaTanya Jackson, Denzel, and Aretha Franklin. Her work is in the corporate and museum collections of New York; Citicorp Group, New York; and the National Museum of Ghana, amongst others. 'I start every single quilt with a prayer. Prayer is what fuels my inspiration. Secondly, I am very thoughtful with every part of the quilting process which includes, but is not limited to the idea, the sketch, the fabric and thread selections, and the layout. The process continues with cutting each piece, placing the cut pieces properly, sewing, sizing, and ultimately the signing of my name. I have absolutely no idea how long it takes to create a quilt. I sometimes will take a guess, but rarely am I correct. It usually turns out to be much longer than I previously thought. There are variables in quilt making, and the variables differ with each quilt. There are many changes made before completion. I always follow my heart and instinct; therefore, a timeline is the last thing on my mind. I am also sensitive to my surroundings as well as the current environment and culture; however, I always take care to add or include the past. I want to honor the things, people, events, places, and circumstances that shaped the life I get to live freely. I like to remember the sacrifices that were made for me. The most exciting aspect of quilt making is that it is a true learning experience one that is forever changing. The process changes; it is invented, then re-invented, over and over again. I am most grateful because my life is a very beautiful artistic journey. This thing I refer to as 'Story Quilt Making' has been an amazing, adventurous and wonderful ride.' Stephens' fabric selections are central to her work. They help her present the stories she wants to tell, and their quality reflects the beauty and intricacy of her stories. Her fabrics are also painstakingly chosen for their sustainability. According to Stephens, the most important part of her process is towards the end, when she is 'resting with the quilt,' or spending a couple of days just looking it over after it appears to be finished. It's during this time that she decides whether it is indeed complete and tells her story. Stephens also finds the process of quilting to be transportive. According to her, 'Quilting is sometimes thought of as a hard, long, drawn- out process. Not for me. I am an heir to the culture and value of the African tradition of quilt making. The long process (of quilting) allows me time to travel to some of the sweetest places in my memories, like the quilting parties I enjoyed as a little girl. It was there that sewing hands and tall tales flowed one and the same. I enjoy every part, every process, and the special privilege of creating a quilt.'

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