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American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s

Faith Ringgold: Early Works #25, <EM>Self-Portrait</EM>, 1965© Faith Ringgold 1965
Faith Ringgold: Early Works #25, Self-Portrait, 1965
© Faith Ringgold 1965
American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s
WASHINGTON, DC  •  National Museum of Women in the Arts  •  Ongoing
Best known as the originator of the African American story quilt revival that began in the 1970s, Faith Ringgold’s pointed political paintings of the 1960s are the focus of American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s, an exhibition on view at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) June 21–Nov. 10, 2013. The exhibition explores the emotional and at times contentious issues that were at the forefront of her experience of racial inequality in the United States during the 1960s. Ringgold created bold, provocative paintings in direct response to the Civil Rights and feminist movements. With only a few exceptions, these once influential paintings disappeared from view, omitted from critical art-historical discourse for more than 40 years. The exhibition includes 45 works from the landmark series American People (1963–67) and Black Light (1967–71), along with related murals and political posters.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Ringgold focused her art and political activism on behalf of people of color, especially on behalf of black women. She organized a demonstration by black artists demanding inclusion in the programs of the Whitney Museum of American Art. She participated in several protests at the Museum of Modern Art, resulting in the addition of two black trustees to the board and major survey exhibitions for Romare Bearden and Richard Hunt. In 1970, a second demonstration at the Whitney resulted in the first-time inclusion of black women artists (Betye Saar and Barbara Chase-Riboud) in the museum’s popular Biennial exhibition. Ringgold’s first public commission, For the Women’s House (1971), was the result of a Creative Arts Public Service grant to create a mural for the Women’s House of Detention on Rikers Island. She created this work based on in-depth interviews with the inmates and decided to include only women in the mural to emphasize the importance of their activities.

National Museum of Women in the Arts Website

Contact: National Museum of Women in the Arts
1250 New York Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20005

Tel: (1) 202 783 50 00

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