FOR DECADES Faith Ringgold fought to be seen and heard and for representation of Black artists and women artists in New York City museums, all the while following her own creative path. Her activism has opened doors for many, including the artist herself. On the occasion of a major survey of her work at Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Md., Ringgold spoke to Nancy Giles of CBS News about her pioneering, seven-decade career.
“I constantly looked for the galleries that accepted Black artists. If I asked and they said, ‘No,’ it didn’t bother me because I expected to hear, ‘No,’” Ringgold told Giles.
July 11, 2021: Faith Ringgld’s interview with Nancy Giles was featured on CBS Sunday Morning. | Video by CBS
Ringgold began expressing herself in the early 1960s, a powerful political period when the Black Power movement centered Black men and the women’s movement focused on white women. Both social enterprises largely ignored the concerns of Black women, fueling her activism and her art.
Over the years, Ringgold has worked in multiple mediums, producing striking paintings about American racism and story quilts that explore African American life and her own biography.
The CBS profile reports that Ringgold suffered from severe asthma and was educated primarily at home, an experience that gave her the freedom to be herself. Later, when she began practicing, she said the art world had many problems with her, including the fact that she painted white people.
“One of the things I feel really defines her practice is this fearlessness to take on anything.” — Emily Rales
BORN IN HARLEM, Ringgold lives and works in Englewood, N.J. Giles visited with the 90-year-old artist at her home studio and toured Glenstone, where more than 70 works are on view in a monographic survey. The exhibition is curated by Emily Rales, co-founder, director, and chief curator of the private museum. Glenstone’s collection includes nine works by Ringgold, all on view in the survey.
“If she wanted to do something, she was not going to let anything stand in her way. Whether that was experimenting with different kinds of media or technique, she was going to do it no matter what,” Rales said. “Each decade brought a new innovation. One of the things I feel really defines her practice is this fearlessness to take on anything.”
Coming of age during a period when the feeling was, “We can’t do this. We can’t do that,” Ringgold said in her mind she always thought, “Yes we can.”
She told Giles: “I have kind of forgotten the sharp feeling I used to get of being rejected and maybe it has to do with being left out so many times. Alright. Go ahead. Leave me out if you want. I’ll come in another door.” CT
After traveling from Serpentine Galleries in London and Bildmuseet in Umeå, Sweden, “Faith Ringgold” is on view at Glenstone in Potomac, Md., April 8-Oct. 24, 2021
FIND MORE about Faith Ringgold on her website
ON VIEW Glenstone is dedicating a gallery to works in its collection by Arthur Jafa in September. The presentation includes film, sculpture, and photography.
Serpentine Galleries published a catalog to accompany “Faith Ringgold.” Glenstone is producing an expanded version of the catalog, forthcoming in August. “Faith Ringgold: Die” provides the backstory for Faith Ringgold’s fascinating “American People #20: Die” (1967) painting, which was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in 2016. “American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s” coincided with her traveling exhibition. “Dancing at the Louvre: Faith Ringgold’s French Collection and Other Story Quilts” documented an exhibition of the same name and was the first publication devoted to her quilt works. Ringgold’s early activism is documented in Susan E. Cahan’s book, “Mounting Frustration: The Art Museum in the Age of Black Power.” Her work is also featured in two catalogs for a sweeping exhibition documenting the experiences of Black women artists (We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85: “Sourcebook” and “New Perspectives”), and the wide variety of ways African American artists expressed themselves in the 1960s and 70s (“Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power”). Ringgold has also authored and illustrated numerous children’s book, including “Tar Beach,” “Harlem Renaissance Party,” and “We Came to America.”
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