Unprecedented “Faith Ringgold: American People” to Make West Coast Debut at de Young Museum

Faith Ringgold (born 1930) "American People Series #18, The Flag Is Bleeding", 1967
© 2022 Faith Ringgold / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Courtesy ACA Galleries, New York

Faith Ringgold: American People
de Young museum / July 16-November 27, 2022

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SAN FRANCISCO –The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are proud to present the first retrospective of American artist Faith Ringgold (b. 1930, New York) on the West Coast. Faith Ringgold: American People brings together more than 50 years of work that bears witness to the complexity of the American experience. Featuring a variety of objects—such as her experimental story quilts, renowned painting series American People and Black Light, soft sculptures, performance objects, and ephemera—the exhibition traces the development of Ringgold’s figurative style and thematic vision as she expanded and adapted her practice to meet the urgency of the political and social changes taking place in America throughout her life. American People provides the most comprehensive assessment to date of Ringgold’s impactful vision, from her paintings made during the civil rights movement, which are some of the most indelible artworks of the civil rights era to her experimental story quilts that challenge accepted hierarchies of art and craft. Long overdue, this retrospective provides a timely opportunity to engage with the art of an American icon.

“As an artist, author, educator and organizer, Faith Ringgold is one of the most influential cultural figures of her generation, inspiring young artists working today through her decades of activism and action,” stated Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “We are thrilled to present Faith Ringgold: American People at the de Young museum this summer. On view at the same time as The Obama Portraits Tour, the legacy of groundbreaking Black artists will resound throughout our galleries.”

The exhibition will feature works across Ringgold’s best-known series, including the American People and Black Light series, which captured the tumultuous events of the 1960s. Ringgold’s support of the Black Power movement and her valiant calls to action are crystallized in her political posters, such as Free Angela (1971), a reference to Communist Party leader and Black Panther Party member (and current Oakland resident) Angela Yvonne Davis, whose image became a symbol of the struggle for Black liberation, anti-capitalism and feminism.

“From her contributions to the creation of a visual vocabulary of the African Diaspora in the United States to enshrining women’s work and craft as fine arts, Faith Ringgold has profoundly influenced the art-historical canon of the 20th century and beyond,” states Janna Keegan, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art and Programming at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “Through activism she has ensured wider representation of Black and female artists in major arts institutions, while her children’s stories have helped instill a sense of social justice, agency, and empathy in a generation of readers—we are really just beginning to understand the true scope and scale of her influence.”

Other important works on view include Ringgold’s Feminism Series, consisting of evocative landscapes painted with the words of important Black women from history, as well as her soft sculptures and performance objects, as well as a large selection of her early unstretched canvases adorned with sewn fabric inspired by thangkas (a classical form of Tibetan painting consisting of a painted picture panel surrounded by a textile mantle). Ringgold’s renowned story quilts, among her most well-known artworks and some of the most influential art objects of the past forty years, will also be on view. Drawing on both personal and collective histories, these story quilts point to larger social conditions and cultural transformations, from the Harlem Renaissance to the realities of Ringgold’s life as a working mother, artist and activist. This retrospective includes a wide range of Ringgold’s quilts, positioning the artist's personal biography in dialogue with key moments in art history and the American experience across the twentieth century.

Faith Ringgold: American People will be on view from July 16 through November 27, 2022, at the de Young museum in San Francisco. The exhibition is curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director, and Gary Carrion-Murayari, Kraus Family Curator, with Madeline Weisburg, Curatorial Assistant, at the New Museum. The de Young’s presentation is coordinated by Janna Keegan, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art and Programming at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

About Faith Ringgold
Faith Ringgold was born on October 30, 1930, in Harlem, New York. Ringgold received a BS and an MA from City College of New York. Ringgold worked as an arts educator in the New York City Public School system for nearly twenty years before joining the faculty alongside Alan Kaprow and Moira Roth at the University of California, San Diego. Ringgold became a professor emerita of art at UCSD in 2002.

Ringgold is the recipient of more than eighty awards and honors, including twenty-three honorary doctorates, two National Endowment for the Arts awards, and the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. Her work is in the permanent collections of numerous museums in the United States and abroad, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the High Museum, Atlanta; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Brooklyn Museum; the Studio Museum in Harlem; and the National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC.

deyoungmuseum.org \ @deyoungmuseum

Public Programs x Faith Ringgold

Saturday, July 16, 2022 \ Faith Ringgold: Opening Day Conversation
Koret Auditorium, 1-2:30 pm

In conjunction with the opening day of Faith Ringgold: American People, join us for a conversation exploring Faith Ringgold’s enduring impact, legacy, and the values that grounded her practice. The conversation will feature noted scholars and will be facilitated by Jana Keegan, assistant curator of contemporary art at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Friday, August 5 \ Friday Nights at OMCA: A Celebration of Feminism and Art
Friday Nights at OMCA features weekly rotating programming that inspires visitors of all ages to make, move, mingle, and more. On August 5, honor the legacy of feminist artist Faith Ringgold with the African American Quilt Guild of Oakland. Meet members of the guild, who will showcase their work and quilting techniques, and engage in hands-on art-making. This free program is held in conjunction with the de Young Museum's Faith Ringgold: American People and OMCA's Hella Feminist.  

Saturday, August 13, 2022 \ Quilt Workshops and Art Making with the African American Quilting Guild of Oakland

Celebrate the art of Faith Ringgold with the African American Quilting Guild of Oakland (AAQGO) by participating in the following workshops and drop-in activities inspired by her experimental story quilts:

Family Art Making\ Wilsey Court, 11-3pm
Explore your creativity by making a small fabric “painting” to tell a story or convey an idea or experience that is important to you. 

Nine Patch Quilt Workshop\ 8th Floor, Hamon Observation Tower 1-3 pm
Join us for a guided workshop and learn to make your own mini quilt. Design, hand sew and hand quilt a nine-patch quilt. Limit to 20 participants, ages 12 and up.

Other workshop dates:
– Saturday, September 10, 2022
– Saturday, October 8, 2022

Saturday, October 1st \ Melbas’s Kitchen: Live Jazz Performance 
The 14 women big band explores the formidable contributions of Liston, Mary Lou Williams, and their friends. This unique band of women stirs it up in an atmosphere of kindness, joy, political action, and fun.

Exhibition Organization
This exhibition is organized by the New Museum, New York. Lead support for this exhibition is provided by The Henry Luce Foundation. Major support for this exhibition has been provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Generous support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation, Glenstone, and The Robert Lehman Foundation. Support for the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco’s presentation has been generously provided by Phillis C. Wattis Fund for Traveling Exhibitions. Major support provided by the Ford Foundation, with generous support from Deborah and Kenneth Novack. Additional support provided by Brook Hartzell and Tad Freese.

Visiting \ de Young
Faith Ringgold: American People will be included in general admission to the de Young museum, with free admission for San Francisco Bay Area residents every Saturday, generously provided by Diane B. Wilsey. For more information, please visit deyoungmuseum.org.

About the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco oversee the de Young museum, located in Golden Gate Park, and the Legion of Honor, in Lincoln Park. It is the largest public arts institution in San Francisco, and one of the most visited arts institutions in the United States.

The de Young originated from the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition in Golden Gate Park and was established as the Memorial Museum in 1895. It was later renamed in honor of Michael H. de Young, who spearheaded its creation. The present copper-clad landmark building, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, opened in October 2005. Reflecting an active conversation among cultures, perspectives, and time periods, the collections on view include American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the 17th to the 21st centuries; arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; costume and textile arts; and international modern and contemporary art.

Media Inquiries:
Shaquille Heath, Manager of Communications, sheath@famsf.org