The Collections at Daniel Grant Museums & Collections
The galleries and collection hall at Daniel Grant Museums & Collections feature collections from four generations of Alabama families. Highlighted works include the photographic archive of Stephen Shames, Quilts by the women of Gee's Bend, Alabama, and paintings and mixed-media works by Gordon W. Bailey. The collection is a treasure trove of regional history. To visit the galleries, make sure to visit on a weekday, between 10am and 4pm.
Stephen Shames' photographic archive
The photographs in Stephen Shames' photographic archive at Daniel Grant Musems & Collections are an important part of his work as a social justice photographer. These images are found in the permanent collections of more than thirty museums worldwide. His photo essay Outside the Dream won the Kodak Crystal Eagle Award for Impact in Photojournalism. Shames' bus-shelter ads for the DADS campaign in New York City received the Pollie Award from the American Association of Political Consultants. His photographs of child poverty were featured in PBS programs, and American Photo cited him as one of the world's "15 underrated photographers." His work has been featured in People Magazine, Esquire, US News, and the Ford Foundation Report.
The American History Center will actively use Shames' archive, which will be displayed in the exhibit hall. Shames was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and raised in Berkeley, California. He began working as a photographer in 1967, covering local protests around the Bay Area while a student at Berkeley. In 1969, he met Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale at an anti-Vietnam War demonstration, and soon began photographing the party.
Quilts by the women of Gee's Bend, Alabama
Initially, the quilts created by the Gee's Bend women were made from scrap materials such as worn clothes and feed sacks. These handmade pieces were meant to be worn to fight off the bitter cold of bedtime and to cover the floorboards. Later, they came to be used as blankets, covering wood-slatted walls. The unique designs of these quilts reflect the history and culture of the area.
Today, a new wave of quilts created by the Gee's Bend women are being discovered, thanks to initiatives and individuals. Through the Women's Institutes and the Rural Industries Bureau, these handmade quilts are being preserved for future generations. The Gee's Bend quilts were once destined for the wealthy class of London, and their designs have received a global recognition. Today, the Gee's Bend Quilting Collective continues the tradition.
The Gee's Bend quilters' work has become widely known as works of art, and some of their pieces are celebrated in museums throughout the United States. Because of Arnett's promotion of the quilts, the images have been reproduced on coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets, and calendars. The profits of these creations do not always go directly to the women who made them.
Gordon W. Bailey's painting collection
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has acquired several pieces of the Gordon W. Bailey Collection for their permanent collection. The museum is located in Bentonville, Arkansas, and is led by Austen Barron Bailly, chef curator of the museum. Sirmans has also curated a show titled Sam Doyle: The Mind's Eye: Works from the Gordon W. Bailey Collection, which opened in 2010.
The Georgia State Art Collection features hundreds of works by artists across the state, including the works of renowned Georgians like Andrew Wyeth. This collection was built during the late twentieth century and includes works by nationally-known artists such as Benny Andrews and Lucinda Bunnen. Other Georgia artists include Howard Finster and Nellie Mae Rowe. The Georgia Art Bus Program ended in 1991.
Gordon W. Bailey's sculpture collection
The sculpture collection at Daniel Grant Museums & Collectibles features works by major American artists, including sculptors Gordon W. Bailey, Dorothy Vogel, and Nick Cave. Bailey's collection of over 1,000 works is the largest of its kind in the United States. Bailey donated his collection of sculpture to the museum in 1989. In this interview, he discusses the reasons behind the collection's creation and the significance of the pieces.
Gordon W. Bailey's paintings
The exhibition, titled "Inspiring Change," showcases the works of the late American painter Gordon W. Bailey. He is primarily known for his portraits of American leaders, political figures, and the environment. His early life was marked by struggle and adversity. In 1862, he attended the newly freed freemen's school, the Penn School, on the island of Saint Helena. His family's hardships forced him to drop out of school. In his twenties, he learned to appreciate history and gained strength from his elders and his devout faith. His work reflects both the history of his native Gullah community and the advancement of African Americans.