Faith Ringgold is an African-American artist best known for her narrative quilts and children’s books. Ringgold grew up in Harlem during the Great Depression. Her mother, a fashion designer and seamstress, encouraged Faith’s creative pursuits from a young age. Ringgold earned a bachelor’s degree from City College of New York and completed her masters degree soon after. She then made her first trip to Europe and subsequently traveled to West Africa. These two trips had a profound influence on her work.
Ringgold’s works carry strong political messages in support of the Civil Rights Movement. The quilts deal with historical African-American women who dedicated themselves to changing the world, to redirecting the male gaze, and to childlike, imaginative storytelling. Many of her quilts inspired her children’s books.
Ringgold co-founded the Ad Hoc Women's Art Committee, which demonstrated against the exclusion of black and female artists by New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art and Museum of Modern Art in 1968–70. Members of the committee demanded that women artists represent fifty percent of the exhibitors.
Ringgold is the recipient of more than 75 awards including 22 honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees. She has received fellowships and grants that include the National Endowment For the Arts award for sculpture and painting, The La Napoule Foundation Award for painting in France, The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for painting, The New York Foundation For the Arts Award for painting, The American Association of University Women for travel to Africa, and The Creative Artists Public Service Award for painting.
Ringgold’s art has been exhibited in museums and galleries in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, South America, Middle East, and Africa. Her art is included in many private and public art collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Chase Manhattan Bank Collection; Baltimore Museum of Art; Williams College Museum of Art; High Museum of Fine Art; Newark Museum; Phillip Morris Collection; Saint Louis Art Museum; and Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas.
Ringgold has completed sixteen children’s books. Her first published book, Tar Beach, has won more than thirty awards including, a Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King award for the best illustrated children's book of 1991. Tar Beach is based on the story quilt of the same title from Ringgold's The Woman On A Bridge Series of 1988, which is in the permanent collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Ringgold currently resides with her husband Burdette Ringgold on a ranch in Englewood, New Jersey, where she has lived and maintained a studio since 1992.