Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold quilting “Tar Beach 2” in her La Jolla, California studio, 1990. © FWM Archives

Faith Ringgold made her first quilt, Echoes of Harlem, with her mother, Madame Willi Posey, in 1980. She was inspired to pursue quiltmaking as a vehicle for her art after hearing her mother’s stories of their enslaved ancestors who were trained to make quilts on plantations. By 1990, the year of her residency at FWM, Ringgold had completed a second quilt, Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima?, her first story quilt incorporating both text and image. Her FWM quilt, Tar Beach 2, tells the story of Cassie Louise Lightfoot, a young African American girl who grows up in Harlem, spending her time outdoors on the rooftops of her urban landscape. The narrative is told through text and image, which are printed with dyes on silk dupioni. Ringgold chose a variety of decorative fabrics to border the quilts, making each quilt in the edition of 24 unique.

In 1991, Ringgold published Tar Beach as a children’s book (Crown Publishers). It has won over twenty awards, including the Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King award for best illustrated children’s book in 1991. Ringgold has since gone on to write other children’s books, including Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky (Crown Publishers, 1992) and Dinner at Aunt Connie’s (Hyperion Books, 1993).

Artist Bio

American, 1930–2024. Lived and worked in La Jolla, California and Englewood, New Jersey. 

Born in Harlem, New York, Faith Ringgold is an interdisciplinary artist known for her painting, narrative quilts, and illustration. Greatly inspired by the artistic traditions of Nigeria and Ghana, Ringgold’s practice illustrates narratives of power, history, and identity as part of the African American experience. She received her B.S. and M.A. degrees in visual art from the City College of New York in 1955 and 1959, respectively, and is Professor Emeritus of Art at the University of California in San Diego. Her work can be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA; The Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; the Studio Museum, Harlem, NY; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; and The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia, PA. She has been granted 23 honorary doctorates and is the recipient of numerous awards including the Medal of Honor for Fine Arts, the Artists Fellowship Award, the Harlem Arts Alliance Golden Legacy Visual Arts Award, and the Moore College of Art and Design’s Visionary Women Award.