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Artists Faith Ringgold
Faith Ringgold Photo

Faith Ringgold

American Multi-media Artist, Social Activist, Author, and Art Professor

Movements and Styles: Postmodernism, Activist Art

Born: October 8, 1930 - Harlem, New York City, USA

Faith Ringgold Timeline

Quotes

"If One Can Anyone Can All You Gotta Do Is Try"
Faith Ringgold
"My women are actually flying; they are just free, totally. They take their liberation by confronting this huge masculine icon - the bridge."
Faith Ringgold
"Like all artists and writers, I am both enriched and limited by what I know and have experienced. In other words my books and my art are based on my life's experience. I am, as you know, a black woman in America."
Faith Ringgold
"My ideas come from reflecting on my life and the lives of people I have known and have been in some way inspired by."
Faith Ringgold
"I had something I was trying to say and sometimes the message is an easy transmission and sometimes it's a difficult one but I love the power of saying it so I'm gonna do it whether it's hard or easy. Because I just love the idea that I can, I can say it!"
Faith Ringgold
"Being an artist is a way of life"
Faith Ringgold
"You can't sit around waiting for somebody else to say who you are. You need to write it and paint it and do it. That's the power of being an artist."
Faith Ringgold
"Freedom of speech is absolutely imperative. You can't have art of any kind without freedom of speech."
Faith Ringgold
"I wanted to tell my story. Who am I and why? - why, who, what, where, when."
Faith Ringgold
"When I was in elementary school I used to see reproductions of Horace Pippin's 1942 painting called John Brown Going to His Hanging in my textbooks. I didn't know Pippin was a black person. No one ever told me that. I was much, much older before I found out that there was at least one black artist in my history books. Only one. Now that didn't help me. That wasn't good enough for me. How come I didn't have that source of power? It is important. That's why I am a black artist. It is exactly why I say who I am."
Faith Ringgold
"I had been to the African source of my own "classical" art forms and now I was set free."
Faith Ringgold
"I am inspired by people who rise above adversity. Like most people, I am also inspired by people who are the best they can be. Although I love a beautiful vase of flowers, a sumptuous landscape or a sunset, I will not be moved to paint one of these without a meaningful personal reference that is also political."
Faith Ringgold
"I have a responsibility to myself and to coming generations of artists. I would like to be the one that helps them do what they want to do. That's the point of being an artist. You can communicate things that you feel and see. You are a voice. You have a power to do that. You don't have to ask anyone's permission. You don't need anyone's help. Once art is made, it an be seen. That is a very powerful thing."
Faith Ringgold
"Your job is to tell your story. Your story has to come out of your life, your environment, who you are, where you come from."
Faith Ringgold
"All over this country and the world people were listening to these black men. I felt called upon to create my own vision of the black experience we were witnessing. I read feverishly, especially everything that James Baldwin had written on relationships between blacks and whites in America. Baldwin understood, I felt, the disparity between black and white people as well as anyone; but I had something to add - the visual depiction of the way we are and look. I wanted my paintings to express this moment I knew was history. I wanted to give my woman's point of view to this period."
Faith Ringgold

"My process is designed to give us 'colored folk' and women a taste of the American dream straight up. Since the facts don't do that too often, I decided to make it up."

Synopsis

Faith Ringgold took the traditional craft of quilt making (which has its roots in the slave culture of the south - pre-civil war era) and re-interpreted its function to tell stories of her life and those of others in the black community. One of her most famous story quilts is Tar Beach, which depicts a family gathered on their rooftop on a hot summer night.

As a social activist, she has used art to start and grow such organizations as Where We At that support African American women artists. Her foundation Anyone Can Fly, is devoted to expanding the art canon to include artists of the African diaspora and to introduce the African American masters to children and adult audiences.

Key Ideas

Ringgold's early art and activism are inextricably intertwined. Her art confronted prejudice directly and made political statements, often using the shock value of racial slurs within her works to highlight the ethnic tension, political unrest, and the race riots of the 1960s. Her works provide crucial insight into perceptions of white culture by African Americans and vice versa.
She combines her African heritage and artistic traditions with her artistic training to create paintings, multi-media soft sculptures, and "story quilts" that elevate the sewn arts to the status of fine art.
In her story quilt Tar Beach the term 'Tar Beach' refers to the urban rooftop itself, commonly used as a place on which to escape the oppressive heat of an inner city without air conditioning. The adults visit with each other while the children play and sleep on their blankets. The daughter dreams of flying freely over all barriers, which is represented by the George Washington bridge in the background. Ringgold consciously chooses to lend a folk-art quality to techniques in her story quilts as a means of emphasizing their narrative importance over compositional style.
Her later works deal with prejudice in a different way. No longer using confrontational imagery to attack prejudice, she subverts it, instead by providing young African Americans with positive role models, re-imaging hurtful racial stereotypes as strong, successful, and heroic women.

Biography

Faith Ringgold Photo

Childhood

Faith Ringgold was born Faith Willi Jones and grew up in New York City. The artist has said of her own upbringing, "I grew up in Harlem during the Great Depression. This did not mean I was poor and oppressed. We were protected from oppression and surrounded by a loving family."

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Faith Ringgold Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Faith Ringgold
Interactive chart with Faith Ringgold's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Robert Gwathmey
Jacob LawrenceJacob Lawrence
Harriet Powers
Poppy Johnson
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso

Personal Contacts

Lucy LippardLucy Lippard
Robert BlackburnRobert Blackburn

Movements

Feminist ArtFeminist Art
African American ArtAfrican American Art
CubismCubism
ImpressionismImpressionism

Influences on Artist
Faith Ringgold
Faith Ringgold
Years Worked: 1950 - current
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Michele Wallace

Personal Contacts

Robert BlackburnRobert Blackburn
Moira RothMoira Roth

Movements

Feminist ArtFeminist Art
African American ArtAfrican American Art

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Laurentia McIntosh, PhD

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Laurentia McIntosh, PhD
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