Keeping the Faith: Storied Faith Ringgold

Keeping the Faith: Storied Faith Ringgold

 Faith Ringgold: American Artist Breaking Boundaries FAITH_4 Born Faith Willi Ann Jones on October 8, 1930, Harlem, New York City

Faith Ringgold is an African-American artist who has spent her career breaking out of boundaries and opening up the art world for African-American artists, especially women.  Ringgold has come to create art that reflects her heritage as an African-American woman. She is a strong and forceful voice of the African-American community and African-American women and one of the most important artists of her generation and all generations.

“I wanted my painting to express this moment I knew was history. I wanted to give my woman’s point of view to this period.”Faith Ringgold, We Flew Over the Bridge, 146


Raised in Harlem, New York, Ringgold earned a BA in art and education in 1955 and an MFA in 1959 at City College, New York. She then studied African art, read about the Black Arts Movement and got involved with the Civil Rights Movement in America. She has used her art to speak out against racism and sexism. To protest the exclusion of African-Americans and women from major museum shows, Ringgold and other black women artists formed a collective and organized an exhibit of their own with the title, “Where We At” (WWA).

FAITH_3She makes paintings and sculptures, but is most widely known for her powerful story quilts, which combine painting, quilted fabric, and storytelling. She made her first Story Quilt in 1979 collaboration with her mother, Willi Posey, a fashion designer, and since has used fabric in many of her artworks.

“Art was the one thing that I always loved to do. Yet, because I had never heard of a black artist, male or female, when I was a child, I did not think of art as a possible profession. In retrospect, I think I must have taken art for granted at this time — as something to do rather than be.”Faith Ringgold, We Flew Over the Bridge, 20

Can anyone find the artist Vincent Van Gogh on the Story Quilt below?

FAITH_art1The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles, 1991,Acrylic on canvas, tie-dyed, pieced fabric border, 74 x 80”

FAITH_art4Faith Ringgold shared about her own childhood in her work, about which she wrote several books for children, such as the Tar Beach series of the late 1980s.  Tar Beach refers to the tar rooftops of buildings in Harlem, New York, where Ringgold was raised. People who lived in the buildings went up on the roofs which substituted for a back yard.  On these hot and sticky surfaces, children imagined themselves at the beach, the kind with sand and waves.

FAITH_art2Tar Beach, 1988, Acrylic on canvas, tie-dyed, pieced fabric border, 74 x 69”

FAITH_art3Tar Beach 2, 1990, Silkscreen on silk, 66 x 66″

Ringgold’s work is in the permanent collection of many museums.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 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York City. She has written and illustrated seventeen children’s books. She has received more than 75 awards, fellowships, citations and honors.


“Art allows individuals to have a voice. It’s a way of speaking and communicating. Everyone has a need to make a mark and make something visible. It’s an absolute necessity. Children start off making art. They come into the world as artists and continue to be artistic until about age 10. Then the art making stops because they realize they are revealing themselves – exposing themselves in a personal way. Art-making makes them unique. They may not want to be unique; they may want to be like everyone else. This is part of growing up and fitting into the world. Some of us continue to be artists, to hold onto art-making. Art is very, very important.” –Faith Ringgold

“If One Can Anyone Can
All you Gotta Do Is Try”

–Faith Ringgold song, “”Anyone Can Fly