Faith Ringgold

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Faith Ringgold
Born Faith Willi Jones
(1930-10-08) October 8, 1930 (age 85)
Harlem, New York City
Education City College of New York
Known for Painting, textile arts

Faith Ringgold (born October 8, 1930, in Harlem, New York City) is an African-American artist, best known for her narrative quilts.


Her birth name was Faith Willi Jones[1] and she was raised in Harlem[2] and educated at the City College of New York, where she studied with Robert Gwathmey and Yasuo Kuniyoshi. After receiving a Bachelor's Degree, she taught in the public school system in New York.[1] She received an M.A. from the college in 1959. In 1970, Ringgold began teaching college level courses.[1] She is the professor emeritus in the University of California, San Diego visual art department.

She was greatly influenced by the fabric she worked with at home with her mother, Willi Posey,[1] who was a fashion designer, and Ringgold has used fabric in many of her artworks. She is especially well known for her painted story quilts, which blur the line between "high art" and "craft" by combining painting, quilted fabric, and storytelling


During the 1960s, Ringgold painted flat, figural compositions that focused on the racial conflicts; depicting everything from riots to cocktail parties,[3] which resulted in her "American People" series, showing the female view of the Civil Rights Movement.[4] The 1970s mark her move into the sculptural figures that depicted fictional slave stories as well as contemporary ones. Ringgold began quilted artworks in 1980; her first quilt being "Echoes of Harlem."[3] She quilted her stories in order to be heard, since at the time no one would publish her autobiography.[5] "Who's Afraid of Aunt Jemima?" (1983) is a quilt showing the story of Aunt Jemima as a matriarch restaurateur.[3] Ringgold modeled her "story quilts" on the Buddhist Thangkas, lovely pictures painted on fabric and quilted or brocaded, which could then be easily rolled up and transported. She has influenced numerous modern artists, including Linda Freeman, and known some of the greatest African-American artists personally, including Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, and Betye Saar.

Ringgold's work is in the permanent collection of many museums including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and other museums, mostly in New York City.

In addition, she has written and illustrated seventeen children's books.[6] Her first was Tar Beach, published by Crown in 1991, based on her quilt story of the same name.[7] For that work she won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award[8] and the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration.[9] She was also the runner-up for the Caldecott Medal, the premier American Library Association award for picture book illustration.[7]

Ringgold is represented by ACA Gallery.

On January 16, 2012, for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, she had a Google Doodle featured on Google's home page.


Ringgold has been an activist since the 1970s, participating in several feminist, anti-racist organizations. In 1970, Ringgold, fellow artist Poppy Johnson, and art critic Lucy Lippard, founded the Ad Hoc Women's Art Committee and protested the Whitney Annual, a major art exhibition held at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.[9] Members of the committee demanded that women artists account for fifty percent of the exhibitors and created disturbances at the museum by leaving raw eggs and sanitary napkins on its grounds and by gathering to sing, blow whistles, and chant about their exclusion.[9] Ringgold and Lippard also worked together during their participation in the group Women Artists in Revolution (WAR)[10] That same year, Ringgold and her daughter, the writer Michele Wallace, founded Women Students and Artists for Black Art Liberation (WSABAL).[11] Around 1974, Ringgold and Wallace were founding members of the National Black Feminist Organization.[12] Ringgold was also a founding member of the "Where We At" Black Women Artists, a New York-based women art collective associated with the Black Arts Movement.[13]

Copyright suit against BET[edit]

Ringgold was also the plaintiff in a significant copyright case, Ringgold v. Black Entertainment Television.[14] Black Entertainment Television (BET) had aired several episodes of the television series Roc in which a Ringgold poster was shown on nine different occasions for a total of 26.75 seconds. Ringgold sued for copyright infringement. The court found BET liable for copyright infringement, rejecting the de minimis defense raised by BET, which had argued that the use of Ringgold's copyrighted work was so minimal that it did not constitute an infringement.

In popular culture[edit]

Painting of Faith Ringgold[edit]

Publications by Faith Ringgold[edit]


  • 2011: City College of New York’s First Annual Cultural Arts Award[15]
  • 2009: Met with President Barack Obama for Peace Corps award
  • 2006: Harlem Arts alliance Golden Legacy Visual Arts Award
  • 2006: James A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art Honoree
  • 2005: Amistad Center for Art & Culture Presidents Award
  • 2005: Moore College of Art and Design’s Visionary Women Award
  • 2004: National Visionary Leadership Project
  • 2002: California Art Educators Association Living Artists Award
  • 2001: Dedicators Award 10/27/01
  • 2001: Art Institute of Chicago, May 19, 2001
  • 2000: Mary Grove College, Honorary Art Degree
  • 1999: NAACP Image Award
  • 1999: Art alliance (Scholastic) April 13, 1999
  • 1999: CITYarts "Making a Difference Through the Arts" Award, June 21, 1999
  • 1999: Bank Street, May 27, 1999
  • 1995: Townsend Harris Medal City College of New York Alumni Association
  • 1990: La Napoule Foundation Award for painting (in France)[16]
  • 1989: National Endowment For the Arts Award for painting[16]
  • 1988: New York Foundation For the Arts Award for painting[16]
  • 1987: John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for painting[16]
  • 1978: National Endowment For the Arts Award for sculpture[16]
  • 1976: American Association of University Women for travel to Africa[16]
  • 1971: Creative Artists Public Service Award for painting[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Faith Ringgold". Guggenheim Museum. Retrieved May 1, 2013. 
  2. ^ Zimmer, William (14 April 2002). "ART; Politics With Subtlety, On Quilts and in Books". New York Times. 
  3. ^ a b c Arnason, H. H., and Elizabeth C. Mansfield. "Conceptualism and Activist Art." History of Modern Art. Sixth ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2010. 611. Print.
  4. ^ "Faith Ringgold." 2013. The Biography Channel website. Apr 22 2013, 11:33.
  5. ^ Ringgold, Faith. "TEACHERS." Scholastic Teachers. Scholastic, n.d. Web. 22 April 2013.
  6. ^ Faith Ringgold blogspot.
  7. ^ a b "Tar Beach" (one library record). WorldCat.
  8. ^ "Ezra Jack Keats Book Award Winners".
  9. ^ a b c "Brooklyn Museum". Faith Ringgold. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  10. ^ Taylor, Brandon. "Victory and Decline: The 1970s." Contemporary Art. London: Laurence King, 2004. 28. Print. Art Since 1970.
  11. ^ Lopez, Yolanda M. and Moira Roth (1994). Norma Broude and Mary D. Garrard, ed. The Power of Feminist Art. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. pp. 140–157 [142]. ISBN 0-8109-3732-8. 
  12. ^ Michele Wallace, "To Hell and Back: On The Road with Black Feminism in the 60s & 70s".
  13. ^ Brown, Kay. “The Emergence of Black Women Artists: The 1970s, New York.” International Review of African American Art. Vol. 15, no 1, 1998 (45-52).
  14. ^ Ringgold v. Black Entertainment Television, 126 F.3d 70 (2nd Cir. 1997).
  15. ^ City College. "CUNY Newswire." CUNY Newswire. CUNY, 29 Sept. 2011. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g "Faith Ringgold - Biography." Faith Ringgold Online Museum, 2012. Web. 23 Apr. 2013.

Further reading[edit]

  • Melody Graulich, Mara Witzling, eds. (2001). "The Freedom to See what She Pleases: A Conversation with Faith Ringgold". Black feminist cultural criticism. Keyworks in cultural studies. Malden, Mass: Blackwell. ISBN 0631222391. 

External links[edit]