Faith Ringgold: The Power of Silence




Internationally Celebrated Artist 

Mixed Media Sculptor, Writer, Lecturer, and Activist.


Born: October 8, 1930, Harlem, New York, NY
Died: April 13, 2024 (age 93 years)

Faith Ringgold cover

 by Kailee Elizabeth Cross

 Edited and Revised  by Dale Ricardo Shields  – { 2024 }


            Faith Ringgold was born on October 8, 1930, in Harlem, New York City.  She is an African-American artist who was less concerned with museum exposure growing up and more determined to express her protest of social order through her artwork.

Two main themes she expresses in her artwork are racism and gender inequality (Patton 197).

All Power to the People
Faith Ringgold (Artist)

“All Power to the People” by Faith Ringgold captures the spirit of self-determination and autonomy expressed by community leaders of the 1970s. In a simplistic rendering, composed of paired down figures, Ringgold presents a representation of a black family in the same colorway as the Pan-African flag.

Paying homage and solidarity to the Black Panthers, this serigraph print is also in-step with the modes of mass communication that were accessible to political organizations in the 1970s, and the contributions to the movement made by African American printmakers.”


She strived for the art of African Americans and women to have more museum exposure.  Through her various ways of going against what was socially accepted in her artwork, her art became a voice of protest for the advancement of African Americans and women.

I just feel like I’m the luckiest person in the world being able to do what I love and be able to do it all day every day if I like, you know, I mean it’s great, I love it.” 

Faith Ringgold, born in 1930 in Harlem, New York, is a painter, mixed media sculptor, performance artist, writer, teacher, and lecturer.

She received her B.S. and M.A. degrees in visual art from the City College of New York in 1955 and 1959. Professor Emerita of Art at the University of California in San Diego, Ringgold has received 23 Honorary Doctorates. 

During the early 1960’s Ringgold traveled in Europe. She created her first political paintings, The American People Series from 1963 to 1967 and had her first and second one-person exhibitions at the Spectrum Gallery in New York. In the early 1970s, Ringgold began making tankas (inspired by a Tibetan art form of paintings framed in richly brocaded fabrics), soft sculptures, and masks. She later utilized this medium in her masked performances of the 1970’s and 80’s. 

Although Faith Ringgold’s art was initially inspired by African art in the 1960s, it was not until the late 1970s that she traveled to Nigeria and Ghana to see the rich tradition of masks that has continued to be her greatest influence.

She made her first quilt, Echoes of Harlem, in 1980, in collaboration with her mother, Madame Willi Posey. The quilts were an extension of her tankas from the 1970’s. However, these paintings were not only bordered with fabric but quilted, creating for her a unique way of painting using the quilt medium.

Ringgold’s first story quilt Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima? was written in 1983 as a way of publishing her unedited words. The addition of text to her quilts has developed into a unique medium and style all her own.

Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima?
Faith Ringgold
The year 1983

Crown Publishers published Faith Ringgold’s first book, the award-winning Tar Beach in 1991. It has won over 20 awards including the Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King Award for the best-illustrated children’s book of 1991. An animated version with Natalie Cole as the voice-over was created by HBO in 2010. The book is based on the story quilt of the same title from The Woman on a Bridge Series, 1988. The original painted story quilt, Tar Beach, is in the permanent collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

Her second children’s book Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky was published in 1992 by Crown. In 1993 Hyperion Books published Dinner at Aunt Connie’s, Ringgold’s third book based on The Dinner Quilt, 1986. Faith Ringgold’s autobiography and first book for an adult audience We Flew Over the Bridge: The Memoirs of Faith Ringgold (Bullfinch 1995; released in paperback by Duke University Press in 2005) as well as the children’s book My Dream of Martin Luther King were published. To date, she has illustrated 17 children’s books. Faith’s most recent books are Harlem Renaissance Party (Harper Collins 2015) and We Came to America (Alfred A Knopf 2016).

Faith Ringgold has been represented worldwide exclusively by ACA Galleries since 1995.