Pioneering Artist and Author Passes Away At 93: Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Faith Ringgold

by Gee NY
Portrait of Faith Ringgold. Courtesy of ACA Galleries.

Faith Ringgold, the celebrated artist and author renowned for her vibrant quilts blending painting, textiles, and storytelling, has passed away at the age of 93.

Ringgold, whose work broke down barriers for Black female artists, leaves behind a rich legacy that resonates in private and public collections worldwide.

According to her assistant, Grace Matthews, Ringgold died on the night of Friday, April 12, at her home in Englewood, New Jersey, after experiencing declining health.

Ringgold’s art, highly personal and deeply resonant, can be found in prestigious institutions such as the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and Atlanta’s High Museum of Fine Art.

Her journey to prominence was marked by challenges, navigating an art world dominated by white males and a cultural landscape where Black men were at the forefront of civil rights activism.

In 1971, Ringgold co-founded the Where We At artists collective, advocating for Black women’s representation in the arts. She became a vocal social activist, protesting the lack of visibility for Black and female artists in American museums.

Reflecting on her activism, Ringgold once told The New York Times in 2019, “I became a feminist out of disgust for the manner in which women were marginalized in the art world.”

Her work often explored themes of Black women’s experiences, including their history as slaves and their struggles against sexual exploitation.

One of Ringgold’s seminal works is her illustrated children’s book, “Tar Beach,” featuring a spirited heroine who takes flight over the George Washington Bridge. The narrative symbolizes women’s empowerment and their ability to confront masculine icons.

As Ringgold explained, “The story of ‘Tar Beach’ symbolizes women’s self-realization and freedom to confront this huge masculine icon — the bridge.”

The story originated from Ringgold’s narrative quilt of the same name, now part of the permanent collection at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Faith Ringgold’s legacy as an artist, activist, and storyteller will continue to inspire generations, leaving an indelible mark on the world of art and beyond.

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