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On this date in 1930, Faith Ringgold was born in New York City. She is a Black artist.
Raised in Harlem, Ringgold earned a BA in art and education in 1955 and an MFA in 1959 at City College, New York. Dissatisfied with the traditional high art training that she received, Ringgold reeducated herself by studying African art, reading the work of Black Arts Movement authors, and participating in the growing protest for an American Civil Rights revolution in America. Paintings from this period blend an African-inspired aesthetic of geometric shapes and flat, shadowless perspective with potent political and social protest.
Ringgold has been an outspoken critic of racial and gender prejudice in the art world. In the early 1970s, Ringgold organized protests against The Whitney Museum of American Art and other major museums for excluding the works of Blacks and women. In response to the museum world's exclusionary policies, Ringgold and other Black women artists formed a collective and organized an exhibition of their own whose title, Where We At, announced their visibility. Ringgold's art focuses on Black women and Black women's issues.
Since the 1970s, she has documented her local community and national events in life-size soft sculptures, representing everyone from ordinary Harlem denizens to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and the young victims of the Atlanta child murders. Ringgold's chosen medium, fabric, is traditionally associated with women. Ringgold's expression of Black women's experience is captured in a combination of quilting and narrative text. She transformed one of her quilts into a children's book, "Tar Beach," that won the 1992 Caldecott Honor Book Award and the Coretta Scott King award.
She has spent her career breaking out of boundaries and clearing spaces for African American creativity, especially that of women. She is currently Professor Emeritus at U.C. San Diego and has a studio in New Jersey. She is married and has two daughters and three granddaughters.
The St. James Guide to Black Artists
Edited by Thomas Riggs
Copyright 1997, St. James Press, Detroit, MI