ORAL HISTORY ARCHIVE   A-CD-GH-LM-RS-Z

Faith Ringgold
National Visionary


Born in Harlem, New York City, in 1930

Award-winning artist, painter, children’s book author and social activist; famous for her story quilts








BIOGRAPHY
Civil rights activist, feminist, artist, and author Faith Ringgold became a pioneer for a unique art form. Her painted story quilts—art that combines painting, quilted fabric, and story telling—reveal her creative genius in what is now a highly respected art form. She has exhibited at major museums in the U.S., Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Her paintings, as well as her literary works artfully weave together autobiography, fantasy, and African American heritage and history.


Faith (left) and her sister.

This interview has
been archived in the
NVLP Collection of
African American
Oral Histories at the
Library of Congress
American Folklife
Center
Over her long, distinguished career, she has received more than 75 awards, fellowships, citations and honors, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Fellowship for painting, two National Endowment for the Arts Awards and seventeen honorary doctorates, one of which is from her alma mater, The City College of New York.

During the late 1960s and the 1970s, she was one of the first female artists to protest discrimination against people of color and women in art exhibits and museums, and succeeded in opening the New York art world up to more women and minorities. Guggenheim Museum curator Nancy Spector has observed that “Her paintings from this period are overtly political, and present an angry, critical reappraisal of the American dream as glimpsed through the filter of race and gender relations.”

Ringgold’s painting series includes The American Collection (1997), a series of painted story quilts in which Ringgold undertakes to rewrite African American art history. This series is an extension of Ringgold’s French Collection which she began in Paris and in the South of France in 1990. The themes of freedom and resilience are the common threads that run through the Coming to Jones Road Series, Part 1 (1999-2000). In this series, images of escaped slaves are moving through distant and colorful landscapes to a new-found freedom and home.

Ringgold’s first published book, the award-winning Tar Beach was published by Random House in 1991 and has won more than 30 awards, including the distinguished Caldecott Honor Medal and the Coretta Scott King Book Award for the best illustrated children's book of 1991. Considered “a book for children of all ages,” Tar Beach is based on the story quilt Tar Beach, from Ringgold’s The Woman on a Bridge Series (1988) and is in the permanent collection of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. HBO included an animated version of Tar Beach in “Good Night Moon and Other Sleepy Time Lullabies.” This program runs periodically on HBO and has been released as a DVD.


Drawn by Ann Gill
of J.C. Nalle Elementary

Ringgold has written and illustrated an additional thirteen children’s books, including Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad In The Sky; My Dream of Martin Luther King, Talking to Faith Ringgold (an autobiographical interactive art book) and The Invisible Princess (an original African American fairy tale based on the quilt Born in a Cotton Field, 1997). All were published by Random House. Random House also released three books for pre-school age children: Counting to Tar Beach, Cassie's Colorful Day with Daddy, and Cassie’s Word Quilt. Hyperion Books, a Walt Disney publisher, has published Dinner at Aunt Connie’s House (based on The Dinner Quilt, a painted story quilt Ringgold created in 1986) and Bonjour, Lonnie. If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Ms. Rosa Parks won the NAACP’s Image Award in 2000 and is available from Simon and Schuster. O Holy Night and The Three Witches are Ringgold’s newest books from Harper Collins.

Ringgold’s first book for an adult audience, We Flew over the Bridge: The Memoirs of Faith Ringgold, was published by Little, Brown in 1995 and has been re-released by Duke University Press.

Faith Ringgold is married to Burdette Ringgold and has two daughters, Michele and Barbara Wallace, and three granddaughters, Faith, Theodora, and Martha. She is professor emerita of art at the University of California in San Diego.


VIDEO CLIPS


EXTERNAL LINKS
www.faithringgold.com (Official Site)
Faith Ringgold's Wikipedia page

RELATED LINKS
Roundtable discussion with Faith Ringgold

URL (Click to bookmark): http://www.visionaryproject.org/ringgoldfaith


ORAL HISTORY ARCHIVE   A-CD-GH-LM-RS-Z