Black News and News Makers in History: Faith Ringgold

Black news from Pasadena - Recognizes Black news and news makers in history this week - Faith RinggoldFaith Ringgold, artist, is born. Recognized as an artist who has spent her artistic career breaking boundaries and clearing spaces for African-American creativity with her paintings, face masks, fabric and soft sculptures, and quilts , especially that of women. Probably best known for her painted story quilts -- art that combines painting, quilted fabric and storytelling.

Born October 8, 1930, Ringgold was raised in Harlem, Ringgold earned a BA in art and education in 1955 and an MFA in 1959 at City College, New York. Inspired by her mother, grandmother, and neighborhood role models (like Thurgood Marshall, Dinah Washington, Mary McLeod Bethune, Aaron Douglass and Duke Ellington), wanting something more after her education, Ringgold studied African art, read the work of Black Arts Movement authors and participated in the growing protest for a civil rights revolution in America. Paintings from this period blend an African-inspired aesthetic of geometric shapes and flat, shadow less perspective with potent political and social protest.

Ringgold has been an outspoken critic of racial and gender prejudice in the art world. In the early 1970s, she organized protests against The Whitney Museum of American Art and other major museums for excluding the works of blacks and women. In response to the museum world's exclusionary policies, Ringgold and other black women artists formed a collective and organized an exhibit of their own whose title, Where We At, announced their visibility. Ringgold's art focuses on black women and black women's issues.

Black news from Pasadena - Recognizes Black news and news makers in history this week - Faith RinggoldSince the 1970s, she has documented her local community and national events in life-size soft sculptures, representing everyone from ordinary Harlem denizens to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the young victims of the Atlanta child murders. Ringgold's latest chosen medium, fabric, is traditionally associated with women. Ringgold's expression of black women's experience is captured in a combination of quilting and narrative text, but her work in general aims to celebrate the uniqueness and commonality of all cultures.

In the 1990's Ringgold continued to craft images dealing with the issues of slavery, racism, and sexism in her work, but combined with her folk-inspired style some aspects of modern and contemporary painting, such as Abstract Expressionism and Pop art. She transformed one of her quilts into a children's book, Tar Beach, which won the 1992 Caldecott Honor Book Award and the Coretta Scott King award.

She has written and illustrated over eleven children's books, which she uses as vehicle to communicate her ideas and vision. She says her goal is to give back to children some of the magic she has received from them. Her 'motto' on her site is If One Can Anyone Can All You Gotta Do Is Try. This motto, like her work, is joyful, rich and inspiring.

Her stories of fictional heroines present images that encourage children to 'take flight' and follow their dreams. They are often painted in a 'folk' style - no indications of perspective; two-dimensional patterning, rich colors, and no shading to indicate three-dimensional volume in the forms.

She has exhibited in major museums in the USA, Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. She is in the permanent collection of many museums including the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Guggenheim, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has numerous awards and recognitions.

She is currently Professor Emeritus at U.C. San Diego and has a studio in New Jersey. She is married with two daughters and three granddaughters.

Excerpts from www.nwhp.org/whm/ringold_bio.php, www.anothershadeofcolor.com and http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/5aa/5aa241.htm.