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Faith Ringgold's first European institutional exhibition opens at the Serpentine Galleries
Faith Ringgold (Installation view, 6 June – 8 September 2019, Serpentine Galleries) © 2019 Faith Ringgold. Photo: readsreads.info.


LONDON.- The ground-breaking work of Faith Ringgold (b. 1930, Harlem, New York) is celebrated in this exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries, her first in a European institution. For more than five decades, Ringgold has consistently challenged perceptions of African American identity and gender inequality through the lenses of the feminist and the civil rights movements. As cultural assumptions and prejudices persist, her work retains its contemporary resonance.

Focusing on different series that she has created over the past 50 years, this survey of her work includes paintings, story quilts and political posters made during the Black Power movement including one to free activist Angela Davis.

Growing up in the creative and intellectual context of the Harlem Renaissance, Ringgold has worked prolifically since the early 1960s, and is widely recognised for her politically charged paintings, story quilts, protest posters, popular children’s books and as an influential art educator. Protest and activism have remained integral to Ringgold’s practice, she co-founded the group the National Black Feminist Organization in 1973 along with her then 18 year-old daughter, Michele Wallace and in 2016 she published We Came to America, a children’s book that celebrates cultural diversity.

In her practice Ringgold draws upon a wide range of visual and cultural sources, from the traditions of quilt-making and its position within the history of slavery to early European Modernism, to tankas – richly brocaded Tibetan paintings – and the graphic symbolism of African masks.

In the 1960s, for her ‘American People’ series (1963-67) Ringgold took the American dream as her subject to expose social inequalities. By the 1970s, Ringgold, with Wallace, was leading protests against the lack of diversity in the exhibitions programme at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, and in 2018 saw her work included in an exhibition there on the subject of protest. Ringgold’s quilts dating from the early 1980s weave together her personal stories and writings with the history of African Americans – a tradition passed on to her by her great-great grandmother Susie Shannon who was born into slavery and was made to sew quilts for plantation owners.

A vital figure in the canon of American art, Ringgold has also written a much-read autobiography We Flew Over the Bridge (1995): ‘I have always wanted to tell my story, or, more to the point, my side of the story.’

Faith Ringgold (b. 1930, Harlem, New York) is an artist, teacher, lecturer and author of numerous award-winning children’s books. She received her BS and MA degrees in visual art from City College of New York in 1955 and 1959. Professor Emeritus of Art at the University of California in San Diego, Ringgold has received 23 Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees. She is the recipient of more than 80 awards and honours including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship; The American Academy of Arts and Letters Award and recently the Medal of Honour for Fine Arts from the National Arts Club. In 2017, Ringgold was elected as a member into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Boston.

Ringgold’s work has been shown internationally, most recently in the group exhibition Soul of A Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, Tate Modern, London (2017), Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville (2018), Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn and The Broad, Los Angeles (2019); We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965 – 85, Brooklyn Museum (2017), Post-Picasso Contemporary Reactions, Museu Picasso, Barcelona, Spain (2014) and American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960’s, the Neuberger Museum, Purchase, New York (2011) and National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington (2013).

Ringgold’s work is in the permanent collections of numerous museums in the United States including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Brooklyn Museum and The Studio Museum in Harlem all in New York; The National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; The Art Institute of Chicago; and The Boston Museum of Fine Art.





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