2008 Honorees


Faith Ringgold


Faith Ringgold, artist and author, was born in 1930 in Harlem, New York. Her artistic career began more than 35 years ago as a painter. Today, she is best known for her painted story quilts -- art that combines painting, quilted fabric and storytelling

Her mother and grandmother promoted African-American culture and she had many wonderful role models as neighbors. Among them were Thurgood Marshall, Dinah Washington, Mary McLeod Bethune, Aaron Douglass and Duke Ellington.

Ringgold uses her art to tell her own story, and in collaboration with her mother, began to sew fabric borders around her paintings, instead of stretching the canvas over wooden stretchers in the traditional manner.

Her art concerns itself with serious issues, but is resplendent with affirmations; it deals with harsh realities, but in the final analysis is connected to following personal dreams and overcoming all obstacles, with a soaring and unstoppable spirit.  As well as her concerns with race and gender, Ringgold uses subjects such as the Oklahoma City bombing, and multi-cultural communities such as Crown Heights, which has twelve different ethnic heritages in residence. Her work aims to celebrate the uniqueness and commonality of all cultures.

In the 1990's Ringgold continued to craft images dealing with the issues of slavery, racism, and sexism in her work, but combined with her folk-inspired style some aspects of modern and contemporary painting, such as Abstract Expressionism and Pop art.

Like many contemporary painters, she often uses a square format for her images, rather than the rectangular format generally used prior to the 20th century. Her imagery is imaginative, and her forms are highly inventive.  Her wonderful images include Sunflowers, Cotton Fields, Black Birds and Quilting Bees.

Her stories of fictional heroines present images that encourage children to 'take flight' and follow their dreams. They are often painted in a 'folk' style - no indications of perspective; two-dimensional patterning, rich colors, and no shading to indicate three-dimensional volume in the forms

She has exhibited in major museums in the USA, Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. She is in the permanent collection of many museums including the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ringgold has written and illustrated over eleven children’s books, which she uses as vehicle to communicate her ideas and vision.  She says her goal is to give back to children some of the magic she has received from them. Her 'motto' on her site is If One Can Anyone Can All You Gotta Do Is Try. This motto like her work is joyful, rich and inspiring.