Gee's Bend Exhibit Comes Home

BIRMINGHAM, AL -- After touring the United States for six years, one of the Birmingham Public Library’s most successful exhibitions has come home. Looking Back at Gee’s Bend: The Photographs of John Reese traveled to Chicago’s DuSadle Museum of African American History and to museums in seven other states. Focusing on an isolated African American community, the exhibition highlights a way of life that is rapidly disappearing. 

Situated within a deep bend of the Alabama River in Wilcox County, Gee’s Bend remained unchanged and relatively free of outside influence for decades. Hoping to document this community’s history and way of life, in 1980 the Birmingham Public Library commissioned Alabama writer Kathryn Tucker Windham and photographer John Reese to interview and photograph residents of the Bend. In 1994 the library produced Looking Back at Gee’s Bend using photos selected by Reese.

As Gee’s Bend returns to Birmingham, the world is turning its attention to Gee’s Bend. The community has been the subject of television documentaries and the setting for a novel. Seventy quilts made by the women of Gee’s Bend, quilts celebrated as a “great American art form,” are now on display at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art.

Looking Back at Gee’s Bend will be on display in the Birmingham Public Library’s Central Library Gallery from January 15 to March 31.

For more information regarding the Birmingham Public Library and a list of upcoming events, please visit or call (205) 226.3600.