Friday, February 23, 2007

Faith Ringgold is an Artist

I'm gonna warn you - I've been thinking a lot about the impact of women in the blogosphere. And women as leaders! My next few posts will be focused on those thoughts. It started with a post in our local newspaper. It lists a number of prominent women bloggers. Frank has a blog and a podcast. If your interested you will find reference to them by going to his post.

I'd rather shout out to Sandy, Liz, Robyn, Char, CK, Sherry because they have commented here, at MyBlogLog, or on their own blog. I'm a big believer on responding to comments - and leaving comments. They have all helped me along the path of blogging. They are heavy hitters in their own rights - each with great humor and sincerity.

Last night I went to a small exhibition - 40 pieces - of Professor Ringgold's work. I say small because the woman has been making art for 50 years...50! years. During her lecture she joked "I used to say it was 35 years...then 40...and now its 50" - it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. One of the images she repeatedly uses is Cassie flying. Cassie is a young girl who believes you can do anything - include fly - similar to building a blog around communication and building relationship.

"If One Can, Anyone Can,
All You Gotta Do Is Try"

Growing up in Harlem in the 1930's, Dr. Ringgold was exposed to the community that was the Harlem Renaissance - Duke Ellington, Joe Louis, Langston Hughes. Ms Ringgold's medium is paint, canvas, quilts. She began her lecture with a picture of her first oil painting at age 18. She is also a storyteller and book publisher. Ms. Ringgold told a great story about wanting to display some public work. In 1971, she submitted an idea for a painting to be displayed at what is now the Rose M Singer Center, Riker's Island. Figuring she would have a captive audience she painted For the Woman's House. Art without Walls is formed as a direct result. Apparently, in the early 1990's, women moved out of the facility and men were transferred in. Almost immediately, the painting was covered in white house paint - until someone realized it was the work of a living legend. An icon in African-American art history. Hello, restoration experts :) Here's a woman whose art hangs in the MOMA and Guggenheim.

I had first seen her work in the early '70's but couldn't recall what specifically grabbed me. And then, last night, I remembered - I saw the African mask series she had created. My eye went straight to that part of the display. Sadly, I can't scrape up any images of the masks on the web. Sometime in the '80's she begins quilting - "easier to carry a quilt than a canvas" - and telling stories within the quilts.

For a good selection of her work in chronological order - click here. It is bold, it is harsh - the web does not do it justice. If you ever get a chance - see her work. For those of you in or near NYC - check out the mosaic in the subway at 125th and Lenox (?) - its hers. Flying Home Harlem Heroes and Heroines - designed by Faith Ringgold - the stones done in Venice. Those Italians know mosaic!

A true 20th century woman - her story tells the struggle and the steps toward victory. I had to share it.


Robyn McMaster said...

Bob, thanks for introducing me to Faith Ringgold. And, thanks for recognizing women's gifts and talents. Takes a strong man to do that.

Bob, you are a real model for what it means to care about readers because you take time to visit my site and comment there as well!

Thanks for being so uniquely you.

Char said...

Thank you for putting me (little ol' me) in the same sentence as Liz, Robyn, et al! Wow! I'm very flattered.

Faith Ringgold sounds like an amazing woman - thank you for introducing us to her.

Gavin Heaton said...

Interesting Bob ... would love to see some of those earlier pictures!

BobG said...

Well thank you, Robyn - women's gifts and talents far too often go unrecognized. This woman touches me in some deep places.

and yes, char - YOU TOO are great!

Gavin - the link to chronological order shows the early work. They remind me of early Picasso work or maybe Max Beckmann - bold strokes -