Faith Ringgold gave an inspiring and humorous lecture shared many human stories that illustrate her life's work as an artist, activist, author, teacher and parent through the evolution of a body of work that contains more than 100 paintings. I was struck by a project on her web site, a coloring book for kids about being color blind. I did an interview with her where she explains the project and I captured a short clip of her reading the story as part of the lecture. Visit her site:
I took notes in a very strane way because I was learning how to use my new camera and the presentation was very visual. So, I took down quotes that caught my attention and tried to link to the photos she was describing. I was taking photos of powerpoint slides projected on the screen and do not so the work justice. Go to her web site, go to the Guggenheim Museum where her work is displayed. See her work live and in person.
Can't make art by anyone else's rules - flag
Power isn't something that people give you, you take it for yourself - black power stamp
Black is beautiful. I changed my pallette. I started using a black canvas. Wanted you to be able to read it. There's more to than "just a flag." Read the words in the flag.
Musuems buy paintings and don't sell right away because if they buy early - make money.
The United States of Attica - she gave away for college kids to raise money. Today they are worth a lot of money.
In the 70's added sculpture. You have to do different types of work. Each type of work, brings a different audience.
In 1980, if painted on canvas and didn't stretch it, it became a quilt. I could handle them. I didn't need three guys and a truck. I could do it myself. Phillip Morris bought the collection of works. First exhibiton of quilts. What makes your work different? What have you come up with that is new?
In the 60's, the question was what is black art? In the 70s, what is women's art? Why are women so important in visual art? 12 different artists - the collection was smart as hell. They bought the works for $2,000 each - we want our quilts back.
A retrospective can be a funeral for the artists - you show your work and you don't know where to go. I showed a quilt that was a storybook. I thought it would be a book. Tell stories from the images. I wrote the story because I didn't want people to figure it out and I wasn't gonna be there to tell them. Someone called it a "story quilt" and I was off and running.
1986 was my first autobiography quilt. Declaration to loose 100 pounds. I lost 80.
Sonny Rollins = Sonny's quilt. She grew up with him. Would play his music in his closet so he wouldn't disturb neighbors. He was her inspiration. He was on the edge blowing his horn - it was like women who need the fortitude to succeed.
Women on the Bridge - Did six in that series. In 1988 - about the 30's because no ac. Go on the roof to be cool. Adults would tell stories and we would listen. Play cards. That what the quilt is about. Asked her to donate to the Guggenheim Museum. She didn't think the museum would accept it. They did. It gets loans out a lot. On the walls of Guggenheim Museum, it is the most frequently requested work in their collection to loan to other institutions. They've never given her a show! They are so busy loaning it out.
Tar Beach - children's book. It was about my life. 1991. I had to write my story. I started writing on my art. They take a picture of the work, they take a photo of the words unedited. Been writing my words since 1980, by 1991 - I got the book. It takes a long time. It takes a long time for everything. It wasn't fast, but once it happens you forget how long it took. When it doesn't happen, you don't forget.
To write and publish, you need a good editor and good agent. They kept giving me suggestions. I was inspired by the editors and the warm reception.
You got to know what happened in order to know the future and where to go. You don't want a future that inadvertantly repeat the past. That's why she wrote about Harriet Tubman. Kids aren't learning about slavery.
The hard part is the writing. With kids books, you have to come to it and get it over. Kids books read over and over again. Bnjour Lonnie - only book out of print.
Subway Commisson - there's a lot of art in the subway. It makes the subway look great. Flying Home Series. A lot of fun to do, Will be there long after I'm gone and you too. This was mosaic. A great opportunity.
Copied European masterpieces in school. Wasn't introduced to black artists. Dancing at Louvre. We were taught to copy them. When I had an opportunity to go to Europe and stay for extended period of time. I had a chance to do work. I'm going to give back what I learned from masters. A lot of black artists when to Europe in the 20's --- a visual artist like Josephine Baker. She marries a french. He dies. He leaves her everything. An artist needs support. I did 12 images
I went to Arles. I looked at Van Gogh's yellow house. I went to each place where I did the painting. I went by Gertrude Stein's house. She was a great art collector. Lots of people like this series. Cafe de Artistes - made the painting. Her husband left her the cafe - so it was a saloon that wasn't stuffy.
We came to America - not quite in this way. They are on a slave ship and jump overboard. The statue of liberty was originally was an African woman. The sculptor copied the image from his mother. In france, there are images of African woman. The symbol of freedman.
Great great grandmother - Susie Shannon - been trying to tell her story. Survived slavery and lived to over 100.
All moma's can't sing. You can't kill people when they are singing. You have to pay attention to that magic.
How the people became colorblind. www.faithringgold.com