THE HOLDINGS OF GLENSTONE MUSEUM in Potomac, Md., include some of Faith Ringgold‘s most politically potent, flag-inspired works. The paintings speak to America’s violent history of racism and injustice.

“The American Collection #6: The Flag is Bleeding #2” (1997) is a self portrait of the artist keeping a close, protective hold on her two young daughters. In the quilt painting, Ringgold’s image is incorporated into an American flag with blood dripping from the stripes.

Look closely and you can read the words “Die” and Nigger” embedded in the stars and stripes on another flag painting, a modern, graphic interpretation titled “Black Light Series #10: Flag for the Moon: Die Nigger” (1969).

 


FAITH RINGGOLD, “The American Collection #6: The Flag is Bleeding #2,” 1997 (acrylic on canvas with painted and pieced border, 76 x 79 inches). | © 2020 Faith Ringgold / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy ACA Galleries, New York. Courtesy: Glenstone Museum

 

The paintings are among more than 70 works by Ringgold that will be on view at the museum this spring. The exhibition opens April 8. Glenstone is the only U.S. venue for “Faith Ringgold,” a survey exhibition organized by Serpentine Galleries in London. The presentation was the artist’s first exhibition in a European institution. After debuting at Serpentine in 2019, the show traveled to Bildmuseet in Umeå, Sweden.

An augmented version of the monographic show will feature nine Ringgold works from the Glenstone collection (four exclusively on view in Maryland), 30 works on loan from other public and private collections appearing for the first time on the tour, and the publication of an expanded edition of the exhibition catalog.

“Faith Ringgold’s powerful depictions of the African American experience are as arresting today as they were when she first started making art nearly 60 years ago,” Emily Wei Rales, director and co-founder of Glenstone, said in a statement.

“Faith Ringgold’s powerful depictions of the African American experience are as arresting today as they were when she first started making art nearly 60 years ago.” — Glenstone Co-Founder Emily Wei Rales

Rales, who is curating the Glenstone exhibition, continued: “Her art has had a strong presence at the museum ever since we displayed one of her iconic paintings in our inaugural installation at the Pavilions in 2018, so it only seemed fitting for Faith Ringgold to be the first touring exhibition hosted at Glenstone. We are thrilled to collaborate with the Serpentine and the Bildmuseet in touring this major retrospective around the world, and in bringing it to American audiences.”

Located just outside Washington, D.C., Glenstone is a private museum founded by Emily and Mitch Rales. The museum provides a unique experience, blending art, architecture, and nature—nearly 300 acres of landscape featuring paths, trails, streams, forests, and meadows. The museum opened to the public in 2006 and introduced an expansive new gallery space called the Pavilions in 2018. The inaugural installation at the Pavilions featured highlights from the museum’s collection, including Ringgold’s “Black Light Series #10: Flag for the Moon: Die Nigger.”

 


Installation view of FAITH RINGGOLD, “Black Light Series #10, Flag for the Moon: Die Nigger,” 1967/69 (oil on canvas), on view at ACA Galleries, New York, N.Y., in 2013. The painting is now in the collection of Glenstone. | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine

 

Dating from 1963 to 1997, the following works from Glenstone’s collection will be on view in “Faith Ringgold” (asterisks indicate the works being shown for the first time in the touring exhibition):

      “American People #4: The Civil Rights Triangle” (1963) *
      “Black Light #10: Flag for the Moon” (1969) *
      “Black Light #12: Party Time” (1969) *
      “Slave Rape #1: Fear Will Make You Weak” (1972)
      “Slave Rape #2: Run You Might Get Away” (1972)
      “Slave Rape #3: Fight to Save Your Life” (1972)
      “Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima?” (1983)
      “Change 3: Faith Ringgold’s Over 100 Pound Weight Loss Performance Story Quilt” (1991) *
      “The American Collection #6: The Flag is Bleeding #2” (1997)
 

BORN AND RAISED IN HARLEM, Ringgold lives and works in Englewood, N.J. Since the 1960s, she has been expressing herself in a variety of mediums—from paintings and political posters to story quilts and Tibetan tankas. Personal and universal, her works offer sharp commentary and intriguing narratives about art history and the experiences of women and Black people in America.

Rarely seen, the works on loan for the Glenstone presentation further explore her practice. Glenstone Curatorial Associate Fanna Gebreyesus previewed the checklist for Culture Type. Selections include a sculptural installation, a series of abstract works, and some of Ringgold’s most iconic story quilts.

 


FAITH RINGGOLD, “Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima?,” 1983 (acrylic on canvas, 90 x 80 inches). | © 2020 Faith Ringgold / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Courtesy ACA Galleries, New York. Courtesy: Glenstone Museum

 

In 1976, civic and cultural celebrations marking America’s historic bicentennial were widespread. In response, Ringgold produced a critical rebuke—“The Wake and Resurrection of the Bicentennial Negro” (1976), an installation of soft sculpture centered around a couple lying in repose atop a red, black, and green carpet.

Ringgold’s “California Dah” (1983) series features color-rich abstract works framed in raffia fringe. The series pays tribute to her mother, Willi Posey Jones. A fashion designer, Jones was a major presence in Ringgold’s life.

“I wanted to see what it looks like where she was,” Ringgold told Cultured magazine, about the concept for the work. “What is that like? Where is she and what is she seeing? I came up with these shapes. The colors and the shapes. What colors do you see? What shapes do you see?”

The mother and daughter frequently collaborated and Jones taught the artist how to quilt. When her mother died in 1981, Ringgold started incorporating quilts into her practice and, in 1983, she began writing stories directly on the works. The following year she began teaching at the University of California, San Diego (1984-2002), where she is a professor emeritus.

Ordinarily installed prominently in Ringgold’s home, nine works from the “Dah” series will be displayed together for the first time at Glenstone.

Some of Ringgold’s most storied quilts will also be on view. “We have included two works from the iconic French Collections series (“The French Collection #11: Le Cafe Des Artistes,” 1998, and “The French Collection #5: Matisse’s Model,” 1991), a series of story quilts which reimagines European modernity within the context of Black visibility ,” Gebreyesus said. “And we added two works from the ‘Change’ and ‘Tar Beach’ series, offering visitors the opportunity to compare narrative and stylistic similarities within each body of work.”

Originally scheduled to debut at Glenstone last year, “Faith Ringgold” was postponed due to COVID-19. Now back on track, the museum plans to announce the exhibition’s spring opening date soon. CT

 

“Faith Ringgold” opens April 8, 2021, at Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Md.

 

UPDATE (03/23/21): Glenstone announced a phased reopening of the museum’s indoor spaces beginning next month, including the debut of the “Faith Ringgold” exhibition on April 8, 2021.

 


FAITH RINGGOLD, “Change 3: Faith Ringgold’s Over 100 Pound Weight Loss Performance Story Quilt,” 1991 (acrylic on canvas with pieced fabric border, 75 x 85.5 inches). | © 2020 Faith Ringgold / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Courtesy ACA Galleries, New York. Courtesy: Glenstone Museum

 

BOOKSHELF
Serpentine Galleries published a catalog to accompany “Faith Ringgold.” Glenstone is producing an expanded version of the catalog this spring. “Faith Ringgold: Die” provides the backstory for Faith Ringgold’s fascinating “American People #20: Die” (1967) painting, which was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in 2016. “American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s” coincided with her traveling exhibition. “Dancing at the Louvre: Faith Ringgold’s French Collection and Other Story Quilts” documented an exhibition of the same name and was the first publication devoted to her quilt works. Ringgold’s early activism is documented in Susan E. Cahan’s book, “Mounting Frustration: The Art Museum in the Age of Black Power.” Her work is also featured in two catalogs for a sweeping exhibition documenting the experiences of Black women artists (We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85: “Sourcebook” and “New Perspectives”), and the wide variety of ways African American artists expressed themselves in the 1960s and 70s (“Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power”). Ringgold has also authored and illustrated numerous children’s book, including “Tar Beach,” “Harlem Renaissance Party,” and “We Came to America.”

 

All proceeds from Faith Ringgold-related sales at Glenstone’s website and bookstore will be donated to Ringgold’s nonprofit Anyone Can Fly Foundation

 

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