MAKERS Profile

Faith Ringgold

Artist & Activist

In this video

Faith Ringgold on fighting to get women and African-American artists into museums and the power of art.
Faith Ringgold is one of America’s most gifted and generous visual storytellers. Though originally trained as a painter, she has worked to superb effect across media. Ringgold is best known for the painted story quilts in which she draws on African American folklore tradition, often to dramatize—to humanize—institutional and national histories. The quilts are dazzling in their brilliant colors, their patterns and their interplay of the visual and textual. Fierce strength, good humor, eros, heartbreak and perseverance abound. Born in 1930 in New York City, Ringgold is a daughter of the Harlem Renaissance and the artistic sister of Romare Bearden and Jacob Lawrence, James Baldwin and Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones).   She studied at the City College of New York, where she received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In the early 1970s, she became a leader in the Black Arts movement and women's arts movement, organizing protests against major museums for excluding works of black and women artists. In 1971, Ringgold co-founded Where We At, a black women artists group. The following year, she used all-female imagery in For The Women’s House, installed at the Women’s House of Detention at Riker’s Island. Ringgold’s life as an author began in 1991, with the publication of Tar Beach, the winner of multiple awards and the first of more than a dozen books. A Professor Emerita of the University of California, San Diego, Faith Ringgold lives and works in Englewood, New Jersey.

More From Faith

Let's Demonstrate
How the first protest against a museum for excluding African-American artists came to be.

Artist's Identity
Ringgold describes just what makes every artist's vision unique. 

Defying An Editor's Rejection
Why Ringgold's autobiography displeased publishers and the surprising way she got her story out in the end.

Fighting for Contraceptive
After having two children in one year, Ringgold strong-armed the doctor into giving her contraception. 

Reality Sets In
When you're no longer a pretty young thing, the true reality of gender discriminations sets in.

Mother's Chance
Ringgold explains how her mother seized the new workplace opportunities brought by WWII to change her life.

Daughter's Boldness
How Ringgold's then-teenage daughter influenced her Whitney Museum protest.

An African American Museum Wing
Ringgold explains the goal of the museum protests of the 60s and 70s and what still needs to change.

Art & Politics
Ringgold disrupted art world norms and dictums in the 60s by making art that was political.

Art as a Career
Ringgold on her sudden, but deep-seated realization, that she wanted to be an artist.