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Faith Ringgold: The Power of Silence by Kailee Elizabeth Cross

In 1948, Faith Ringgold graduated from high school and felt that she wanted to continue her education to become an artist (Ringgold 34).  She attended City College in New York City, but she had to major in education with an emphasis in art due to a major in art not being available to African American females (Ringgold 34).  While taking college classes she experienced many instances of racism where teachers would try to degrade her and her abilities as an artist.  Rather than giving up and believing them, she used their negativity as fuel to prove them wrong (Ringgold 34).  Faith Ringgold states in her autobiography that she graduated and went on to receive a Master’s degree in Fine Arts from City College in 1959.  It seemed after receiving her Master’s degree she truly wanted to make herself known.  In 1963, Faith used the contemporary events as a basis for her artwork, demanding respect for both her creations and views (Ringgold 144).  Ringgold stated, “Often older artists wrote off my paintings as “protest” art, sometimes even dismissing them as merely history painting or realism.”

Along with being an artist, Faith Ringgold is an active feminist, anti-racist activist, teacher, and an author.  Although she deeply strives for equal treatment of African Americans, she is more dedicated artistically to “Women’s Art” (Lewis 147).  “My art is for everyone but it is about me (my sisters)” (Lewis 147).

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In 1991, she founded an all-women’s art group called “Where We At” (Patton 197).  Not seeing women’s art in museum exhibitions infuriated Faith, even at African American exhibitions (Patton 197).  She became a part of the Women’s movement in the 1970’s joining a bigger group to fight for her rights.  “In the 1970’s being black and a feminist was equivalent to being a traitor to the cause of black people” (Ringgold 175).

Faith Ringgold, American People Series # 20: Die, 1967, Oil on Canvas.

Faith Ringgold, American People Series # 20: Die, 1967, Oil on Canvas.