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Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold
1930- US

Faith Jones Ringgold is an author, activist and cultural icon. Her career has been prolific and diverse; she’s worked across 16 different media. She is a painter, teacher, activist, quilt maker, award winning children's book author, art professor and sculptor. She was born in Harlem during a very creative time in American history, the Harlem Renaissance. Ringgold's childhood home in Harlem was surrounded by a thriving arts scene where figures such as Duke Ellington and Langston Hughes lived in the neighborhood. Her childhood friend, Sonny Rollins, would grow up to be a celebrated jazz musician. Creativity was encouraged in their home. She explored visual art as a major pastime through the support of her mother, Willi Posey Jones, a fashion designer and her father an avid storyteller.

While still in high school she decided to be an artist. In 1959, she received her master's degree from City College and left with her mother and daughters on her first trip to Europe. While traveling abroad in Paris, Florence, and Rome, Ringgold visited many museums, including the Louvre. This museum in particular inspired her future series of quilt paintings known as the French Collection.

In the mid-1950s Jones started teaching art in New York public schools, a job she held until the 1970s and later became an Art Professor at several universities. She became famous for innovative quilted narrations that communicate her political beliefs. She started experimenting with “soft sculpture”, combining fabric, painting and narrative. She produced her first such work, Echoes of Harlem, in 1980 in collaboration with her mother. She began a body of paintings in 1963 called the American People series, which portrays the civil rights movement from a female perspective.

Her first children's book the award winning “Tar Beach” was published in 1991. It has won over 20 awards including the Caldecott Honor. Other honors that she has received include,

National Endowment for the Arts Award for Painting (NEA), Washington, D.C. 1989

The La Napoule Foundation Award for painting in France, 1990

The American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, 2004

Moore College of Art and Design’s Visionary Women Award, 2005

Teacher of the Year, NYC Teachers Association, October 28, 2006

Medal of Honor for Fine Arts, National Arts Club, January 19, 2015

Faith Ringgold has been awarded the following 23 Honorary Doctorates including,

Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, PA, 1986

Rhode Island School of Design, June 4, 1994

Parsons School of Design, New York, NY, May 14, 1996

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, May 19, 2001

Royal College of Art, London, England, April 2013

In the 21st century she continued to work on quilts and on various commissions. Major retrospectives of Ringgold's work “Faith Ringgold: American People.” were featured by London's Serpentine Galleries and the New Museum, New York before traveling to the De Young Museum, San Francisco.

Throughout her 94 years she has not only made a major mark on education, the American Arts scene but also strides for Black artists and Women artists.

One of her paintings incorporating Art History with Black History,

features prominent women in Black History making a sunflower quilt

while being handed a bouquet of sunflowers by Van Gogh.

Tabor Class

Abernethy Classes

In our Faith Ringold lesson, the class worked with colored paper

and markers to create their own narrative which included patterns

inspired by African fabrics.


 Week One: Cave Paintings

It has been an eventful week in our Art Literacy class. We have been all around the world.  I would like to thank all of my wonderful students for their great efforts. We began with the story of the discovery of the discovery of cave paintings in Lascaux,  France  and also looked at images from  Spain , where the oldest known cave paintings have been found,  in the cave called El Castillo. The prehistoric dots and crimson hand stencils are now the world's oldest known cave art that dates more than 40,800 years old.

© Serene Greene- Art Literacy Academy
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