CELEBRATIONS OF ONE OF AMERICA’s most insightful artists are finally arriving at a pace that measures up to the significance and longevity of her practice. Harlem-born Faith Ringgold, 91, is being recognized all over her hometown. Currently on view at the New Museum, “Faith Ringgold: American People” is her first full-scale retrospective in New York. Published on the occasion of the exhibition, a new fully illustrated catalog examines her entire career. “Faith Ringgold: Politics/Power,” another new volume that showcases her most potent and profound political works, debuted this week.

“Faith Ringgold: Prints and Multiples” recently opened at ACA Galleries in New York. Next month, the American Folk Art Museum will honor Ringgold at its 60th anniversary gala in New York. This month, a painted quilt from her 2004 Jazz Stories series covers the Spring Style & Design Issue of The New Yorker magazine.

 


March 28, 2022: The forthcoming Style & Design issue of The New Yorker features a story quilt by Faith Ringgold on the cover. Shown, FAITH RINGGOLD, “Jazz Stories: Mama Can Sing, Papa Can Blow #1: Somebody Stole My Broken Heart,” 2004 (acrylic on canvas with pieced fabric border, 80 1/2 x 67 inches).

 

For more than 60 years, Ringgold has been making art that documents the American narrative, visualizing its most uncomfortable chapters with a focus on matters of race and gender. She often invokes her own biography and has frequently referenced jazz in her work. Ever-present in her life since childhood, Ringgold listens to jazz, grew up around its major figures, and even married a jazz musician.

Each work in Ringgold’s Jazz Stories story quilt series features a female jazz singer in the foreground, backed by a trio of musicians. The cover work, “Mama Can Sing, Papa Can Blow #1: Somebody Stole My Broken Heart,” focuses on a woman in a form-fitting yellow dress. Lost in song with her eyes closed and arms outstretched, she is accompanied by a saxophone player, a bassist, and a drummer. The image is composed against a red background and framed by a pieced fabric border.

“I have spent a lifetime listening to the great music of Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, and others. Many of these musicians also lived in Harlem, so, even though they were stars, they were also neighbors.” — Faith Ringgold

On the occasion of latest cover of The New Yorker, Françoise Mouly, the magazine’s art editor, spoke to Ringgold about her background in teaching, the many mediums in which she has expressed herself, and her relationship to jazz.

“I have spent a lifetime listening to the great music of Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, and others. Many of these musicians also lived in Harlem, so, even though they were stars, they were also neighbors,” Ringgold said. “I grew up with Sonny Rollins. My first husband, Earl Wallace, was a classical pianist and composer. Our home was lively with musicians, such as Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Jackie McLean, among others.”

Ringgold called Romare Bearden “the greatest of the jazz painters” and added that she “could easily spend the rest of my life singing my song in pictures.” CT

 

FIND MORE The March 28 issue of The New Yorker also features a profile of artist Simone Leigh by Calvin Tompkins

 

BOOKSHELF
Published on the occasion of the New Museum exhibition, “Faith Ringgold: American People” examines the entire career of Faith Ringgold. With text contributions by an impressive slate of artists, curators and writers, including Diedrick Brackens, LeRonn Brooks, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Jordan Casteel, Bridget Cooks, Mark Godfrey, Lucy Lippard, Tschabalala Self, Michele Wallace, and Zoé Whitley, the new volume is being promoted as “the most significant collection of scholarship” on Ringgold to date. Another new volume debuting today, “Faith Ringgold: Politics/Power” showcases her most potent and profound political works. Forthcoming in May, “Faith Ringgold” is published to document the survey exhibition recently on view at Glenstone Museum in Potomac, Md. The volume is an updated and expanded version of the catalog published in 2020 to accompany the show’s presentation at Serpentine Galleries in London. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, published a new children’s book: “The Met Faith Ringgold: Narrating the World in Pattern and Color (What the Artist Saw).”

 

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