Stories Of Race In America Captured On Quilt And Canvas
by Susan Stamberg
Artist Faith Ringgold is best known for what she calls her story quilts — large canvases made in the 1980s, on which she painted scenes of African-American life: sunbathing on a tar roof, a mother and her children, a quilting bee. She frames the canvases in strips of quilted fabric, carrying out an old African, and African-American quilt-making tradition.
The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington is showing an earlier aspect of Ringgold’s art: big, strong, vivid paintings from the 1960s that reflect the violence and social upheaval of that time.
Faith Ringgold is now 83 — and still stunning with her long braids and colorful beads. “[It] was important to be determined,” she says of her time developing as an artist in the 1960s. The stop signs that appeared in the pop art movement spoke to her: “There were a lot of stop signs in my life. … People telling you what to do, when to do it, and so on,” she says.
In the ’60s, those days of civil rights struffles and conflicts over equality of ther aces, Ringgold was making traditional art — painting landscapes primarily.
She showed her work to Ruth White, the owner of the popular Ruth White Gallery, who said Ringgold couldn’t be black and simply paint landscapes during such a tumultuous time. “Some people might have been upset or hurt by it,” she says. “But I was happy that she had the courage to tell me that. ” [Continue reading and listen to the story on NPR.]