Way before I ever realized who Faith Ringgold was as an artist, I knew and loved her as a children's book author. Her stories are engaging, the illustrations are vivid and intriguing. These were the days I bought books for my own children and for the schools where I taught preK.
When I began exploring quilting as fiber art I ran across her again - this time as an artist and activist. She began her art career painting and teaching art in the New York City public schools and campaigning for the inclusion of female and black artists in gallery representation and museum exhibitions.
She began creating the quilts that most people know her by in the 1980's and created the first of her children's books based on her quilts, Tar Beach, in 1991, based on her quilt of that name created in 1988. It's hard to find an exact count of how many she's published since quite a few are now out of print, but it's somewhere around 19 - 20!
Faith's quilts are intricate narratives of things she wanted to say, in the only way people would listen. It's hard to pick favorites from among her large body of work (and at age 87 she's still creating!), but two of mine are The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles (1996)
and Subway Graffiti (1987).
If you'd like to learn more about this fascinating woman, see her website here and visit ArtNews for a good story about her. And there is a short, wonderful video featuring her talking about her work on PBS's The Arts Page available here.
Happy Creating! Deborah