Faith Ringgold exhibit to open at Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery at Fairfield University

Faith Ringgold exhibit to open at Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery at Fairfield University

The brilliantly colored story quilts, oils, prints, tankas, works on paper and soft sculptures of seminal artist Faith Ringgold will be on exhibit from Saturday, Jan. 28, through Saturday, March 4, at the Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery at Fairfield University. An opening reception will be held Saturday, Jan. 28, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the gallery, located in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.

This traveling exhibit from ACA Galleries in New York City offers visitors an understanding of the wide range of works from Ringgold, one of the most significant African-American artists of the modern era. They also show how Ringgold has deftly expressed the cultural, political, racial and gender statements that defined her time through such a variety of media.

During the late 1960s and 1970s, Ringgold was instrumental in protests and other actions against museums that she felt neglected the work of women and people of color. Paintings included in the exhibit, such as the oils "Portrait of an American Youth" and "The In Crowd" from 1964, are overtly political and present what one biographer called "an angry, critical reappraisal of the American dream glimpsed through the filter of race and gender relations."

More recently, Ringgold has taken another tack, seeking social change through her optimistic presentations of black female heroines. Her most successful and well-known vehicle is the painted story quilt, which utilizes a bold creative medium strongly associated with women's communal work. Her understanding of the deep meaning embedded in quilts may also speak to her own heritage: Her mother was a dressmaker and fashion designer in Harlem and her great-great-great-grandmother was a Southern slave who made quilts for plantation owners.

The folk-art quality of the quilts allows Ringgold to emphasize story over style, conveying narrative and information in addition to brilliant color and design. The exhibit includes three prime examples of Ringgold's artistry - "Jazz Stories 2004: Mama Can Sing, Papa Can Blow #2: Come on Dance With Me," "Subway Graffiti 2," and "Tar Beach #2."

The exhibit also includes prints, works on paper, several soft sculptures and three tankas, Tibetan-inspired works of acrylics painted on canvas and framed in cloth. In addition, the display includes 11 original illustrations from her children's book, "Tar Beach," which was a Caldecott Honor Book and won the Coretta Scott King Award for illustration. She has written several other books for both the children's and adult audiences.

Ringgold began her career nearly 40 years ago and she has exhibited in major museums in the United States, Europe, South America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Her works are in the permanent collections of several museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Ringgold has received more than 75 awards, fellowships, citations and honors, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Fellowship for painting, two National Endowment for the Arts awards and 17 honorary doctorates, including one from her alma mater, City College of New York.

The exhibit will be on display Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (203) 254-4010, ext. 2969.

Posted On: 01-06-2006 10:01 AM

Volume: 38 Number: 134