Faith Ringgold (born 1930) is an Harlem-based artist known for her narrative quilts. Although her artistic medium of choice varies from painting, sculpture, performance art, to children’s books. When her career first began in the 1950’s after receiving her degree, inspiration was drawn from the writings of James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, to the styles of African art, Impressionism, and Cubism to eventually create the works she made in the 1960s. Read more
Although her artwork gained a following, many collectors and gallery owners were uncomfortable with the composition of flat figures and shapes, resulting in her not successfully selling much of her work. This became the inspiration in the theme of underlying racism in America evident in everyday activities, focused on her experiences during the Harlem Renaissance. During the summer of 1972, Ringgold traveled across Europe. While in Amsterdam and visiting the Rijksmuseum, she encountered 14th and 15th century Nepali paintings framed with cloth brocades, inspiring her to frame her own work with cloth, or quilts; quilting her story to be heard as no one would publish her written work. In 1973, Ringgold began focusing on sculpture, ranging from costumed masks to soft sculptures made to commemorate her local and national events and representing both fictional and real characters and personas she encountered both past and present. Her oeuvre became more diverse and eccentric, shifting as time progressed, shown through her interest in performance art. A lifelong activist and storyteller, much of her work has been influenced by African American artist Jacob Lawrence and writer James Baldwin.