The Artist Perspective: Fall ’09

The Artist Perspective: Fall ’09

In this edition of On the Issues Magazine on race, feminism and a new progressive movement, The Art Perspective features the work of Faith Ringgold, an artist with a vast and impressive body of work. Ringgold, born in 1930 in Harlem, began her artistic career in the early 1960s as a painter. She is widely recognized for her painted story quilts – art that combines painting, quilted fabric and storytelling.

In 1970, Ringgold had her first solo exhibit at Spectrum Gallery. In 1972, she used all-female imagery for the first time in For the Women’s House, an installation at the Women’s House of Detention on Riker’s Island, and later that year she put political posters and feminist papers in Documenta in Kassel, Germany, and participated in the First American Women Artists Show in Hamburg, Germany. At the Women’s Interarts Center in New York, she curated 11 in New York, a black women’s show, in 1975, and in 1976, was co-director of the Sojourner Truth Festival of the Arts.

In 1995, Ringgold was commissioned to create a poster, Women’s Work Counts for the 75th Anniversary of the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor, commemorated at the White House. In 2000, she began a conceptual study, Racial Questions and Answers with an online survey of race and color in the United States.

Over the years, Ringgold has received more than 75 awards and honors, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Fellowship for painting and two National Endowment for the Arts Awards (for painting and sculpture). Her work is in the permanent collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other major museums, and she has exhibited in many museums in the U.S., Europe, South America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. She is currently represented by the ACA Galleries in New York

Ringgold is also recognized for her illustrated storybooks. Her use of story in her work began in 1980 when no publisher would accept her autobiography. Her first children’s book, Tar Beach, was published in 1991 and received a Caldecott Honor and The Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration. Ringgold has now illustrated 14 children’s books, writing 11 of them, and her autobiography, We Flew Over the Bridge: The Memoirs of Faith Ringgold was published in 1995. The Faith Ringgold Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling is scheduled to open in Harlem in 2010-2011.

The Art Perspective presents Ringgold’s illustrated story, How the People Became Color Blind, with Ringgold herself reading the text that accompanies the drawings. The story is about being free of color prejudice, and Ringgold says that to eliminate this prejudice “is one of the most difficult things to achieve in our world today.”

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–Linda Stein