Celebrated Artist Faith Ringgold has died at age 93

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Image Credit: Instagram/@faithringgold

Artist Faith Ringgold died on Saturday, April 13 at the age of 93. Ringgold is best known for her quiltwork that depicted the good, the bad, and the ugly of the African-American experience, and her award winning children’s book, Tar Beach.

Born in Harlem in 1930, she earned her B.S. and M.A. degrees in visual art from the City College of New York in 1955 and 1959, respectively. According to a feature story about the artist published last year by nextavenue, “Ringgold found her voice and made political art during the Civil Rights struggles and Black Power Movement of the sixties, and she was an early spokeswoman and champion of the women’s movement.”

She famously participated in a protest movement against the Whitney Museum of American Art. The Ad Hoc Women’s Art Committee sought to increase the number of female and Black artists in a major modern art exhibit. Ringgold was arrested in November 1970 for protesting.

Her book Tar Beach, published in 1991, “has become an urban childhood classic…beloved for its universal themes of family, wonder, imagination, and awakening” and “encapsulates the essence of emancipation and self-expression she has pursued across her works, according to artnet.

In 2004, Ringgold discussed the power of representation of Black artists:

“When I was in elementary school I used to see reproductions of Horace Pippin’s 1942 painting called John Brown Going to His Hanging in my textbooks. I didn’t know Pippin was a black person. No one ever told me that. I was much, much older before I found out that there was at least one black artist in my history books. Only one. Now that didn’t help me. That wasn’t good enough for me. How come I didn’t have that source of power? It is important. That’s why I am a black artist. It is exactly why I say who I am.”

Ringgold received 23 honorary degrees throughout her career and had a school renamed after her, Faith Ringgold School of Arts and Sciences, in 2007. Her first European exhibition was in 2019 in London, and her first career retrospective exhibition opened in 2022 at the New Museum in New York.

In an interview before the opening at the New Museum, Ringgold shared the advice that guided her career: “Find your voice and don’t worry about what other people think.”