Sarah H. Jackson’s towels were inspired by the quilts of Gee’s Bend, a predominantly African American community in Alabama near the Alabama River. The quilting tradition in this small Alabama town can be traced back to the 1800s when female slaves would sew quilts, possibly inspired by African textiles, to keep themselves and their families warm. Their descendents, now freed, continued the tradition. The quilters use an improvisational style rather than relying on traditional motifs to create unorthodox works of textile art. The quilts produced by these generations of quilters are astounding works of art, some of which have been exhibited in art museums around the country. New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman even described the quilts as, “some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.” You can learn more about the quilts and see photographs of them here.