Contemporary Art, 1960s–present

Art, Culture, and Politics

Who is Faith Ringgold?

Faith Ringgold (1930–) is an African American artist from Harlem known for her paintings, story quilts, and soft sculpture. She was inspired by traditions and styles of African art and her work explores racial and gender identities as well as civil rights issues. She has been called a fiber artist, but her choice of media is diverse. In 1967 she painted Advent of Black Power, an image from her American People Series, which was featured on a U.S. postage stamp, and later she was a member of the black women’s artist collective, “Where We At.” Ringgold, who was inspired by Tibetan thangkas, began making “story quilts” in the 1980s. Her best-known story quilt is Tar Beach (1988), which was also made into a picture book in 1991. Tar Beach visually narrates the story of eight-year-old Cassie Louise Lightfoot, whose father is a union worker, and the way in which her imagination allows her to fly while on her Harlem rooftop. The text of the story (a version of which became the book), is written around the border of the quilt.


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