Faith Ringgold Facts

Faith Ringgold is an American writer, artist and speaker, best known for her narrative quilts.

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Facts About Faith Ringgold

  • Faith Ringgold was born on 8th October, 1930, in Harlem, New York. She grew up in Harlem and attended local schools.
  • Ringgold decided to be an artist while in high school and she later joined the City College of New York, where she pursued a degree in Fine Arts and Education. She earned her degree in 1955 and an MA in Fine Arts in 1959.
  • After graduating college in the 1950s, Faith started teaching arts in New York public schools. She held the job until the 1970s.
  • Her birth name was Faith Willi Jones, which changed to Faith Ringgold after getting married to Burdette Ringgold in 1962, her second husband. She used her husband’s second name professionally immediately after getting married.
  • Faith Ringgold is well-known for her artwork, writing and her role in the civil rights movement. She is also a popular mixed media sculptor and performance artist, but she is best known for her narrative quilts.

No other creative field is as closed to those who are not white and male as is the visual arts. After I decided to be an artist, the first thing that I had to believe was that I, a black woman, could penetrate the art scene, and that, further, I could do so without sacrificing one iota of my blackness or my femaleness or my humanity.

Faith Ringgold
  • By the 1960s, Faith Ringgold had matured professionally and started reflecting on civil rights, politics, and she studied African arts and history. She created a body of paintings known as the American People Series, which was a portrayal of the American Civil Rights Movement from a female perspective.
  • In 1967, she created the American People #20: Die, which was an unsettling piece of art inspired by Guernica by Pablo Picasso. It was a mural showcasing a tangle of black and white bodies with doll-like eyes and bloodied attire, and represented the race riots of the late 1960s.
  • In 2016, the Museum of Modern Art in NYC acquired the American People #20. Three years later, the museum caused a stir after placing the artwork next to Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) in a bid to diversify the presentation of its art collection.
  • Ringgold started working on narrative quilts, also known as story quilts, in 1980, which she is famed for. She painted the quilts with original stories and narrative images set in the context of African American history.
  • Ringgold did not work alone as her mother frequently collaborated with her. Some of the pieces she worked on together include; Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima? (1984), Sonny’s Quilt (1986) and Tar Beach (1988).
  • Ringgold has written a number of children’s books, some of which are adaptations of her narrative quilts. They include; Caldecott Honor Book (1992), Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky (1992), Harlem Renaissance Party (2015), Martin Luther King (1995) and We Came to America (2016).
  • We Flew Over the Bridge: The Memoirs of Faith Ringgold was published in 1995.
  • In 2022, the New Museum, New York City, held a major exhibition titled – Faith Ringgold: American People – to showcase Ringgold’s works.
  • In 2009, Faith Ringgold won the 2009 Peace Corps Award. She is also won many awards for her children’s books.

The great enemy of creativity is fear. When we’re fearful, we freeze up – like a nine-year-old who won’t draw pictures, for fear everybody will laugh. Creativity has a lot to do with a willingness to take risks.

Faith Ringgold
  • Ringgold’s mother, Willi Jones, who was a professional fashion designer, collaborated with Ringgold to create a series of paintings inspired by Tibetan thangkas, which she saw when visiting museums in Amsterdam.
  • In 1970, Ringgold and one of her daughters founded the Women Students and Artists for Black Art Liberation Movement, an advocacy group.
  • Aside from paintings and narrative quilts, Faith Ringgold also worked on masks and soft sculptures.
  • Faith Ringgold has lectured frequently on matters of sexism, feminism, race, and civil rights at art conferences all over the world.
  • In 1972, she helped win admission for black artists to the exhibit schedule of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  • In 2002, Faith Ringgold’s Maya’s Quilt of Life sold for more than $400,000 at auction.