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 Faith Ringgold  (1930 - )

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Lived/Active: New York      Known for: African-American themed mixed-media sculpture

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BIOGRAPHY for Faith Ringgold
1930 (Harlem, New York)
New York

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African-American themed mixed-media sculpture

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Black American Artists
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Dedicated to innovative art forms that express black cultural awareness, Faith Ringgold uses soft sculpture figures and painted hanging pieces in performance art. Her sculptures displayed together give the appearance of being African masks with much finished work of beading, stitchery, and fabrics.

She was born (1930) and raised in Harlem, New York, and married a jazz musician and raised two children.  She divorced, finished college, and earned a Master's Degree at City College of New York and there, influenced by Robert Gwathmey and Yasuo Kuniyoshi, decided to become a full-time artist.

Her first work were western themes, but she did not relate to this subject matter and turned to the civil rights and African themes, completing in 1967 a mural of abstracted forms and harsh patterns titled Die, of a street riot.

Huge murals became her specialty until she did such a heavy mural for the Women's House of Detention on Rikers Island that she could not carry it down a flight of stairs. She then began making lightweight, more portable art, first painting thin cloth hangings and then soft sculpture. She much preferred this approach to sculpture over painting, which she found isolating. She often takes her portable work to college campuses and other venues, where she involves her audiences in interactive performances.

She was one of the first female artists to protest discrimination against women in art exhibits and museums and succeeded in opening the New York art world to more women and minorities.

Sources include:
American Women Artists by Charlotte Streifer Rubinstein

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