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Faith Ringgold & Other Quilting Artists in the Unconventional Creativity of Our Days

06.10.2021
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Faith Ringgold vibrant paintings

Faith Ringgold’s vibrant paintings and quilts trace the social changes of the 20th century that affected African Americans. The artist uses elements of African American narrative scenes and references to Nigerian and Ghanaian decorative masks in her extensive practice;

Faith Ringgold Quilts has also created sculptures and performances. Throughout her life, she has told stories of violence, power, and black identity.

We want to introduce you not only to her but to other artists in this field and are ready to tell you more about quilting.

What Is a Quilt?

Can you define what a quilt is on your own? Or are you still unaware of such an art trend? Now we can explain it to you.

Quilting arts is a type of needlework, in which more than three layers of fabric are sewed by hand or by sewing machine. With all this on the surface of the quilt appears an embossed pattern and in the process it becomes three-dimensional.

In a quilt the top layer is usually decorative, it is always made in patchwork technique, or its composition is obtained with appliquéing, embroidery, collage, etc. The middle layer is the lining, usually made of padding or batting. The bottom layer is the lining. And it is usually made of cotton fabric. All three layers should be quilted together.

The masterful art of quilting and sewing patches is found in various cultures around the world. In fact, at this stage, all the techniques of different countries are closely intertwined.

Who Is Faith Ringgold?

Who Is Faith Ringgold?

While working as an art teacher in public schools, Faith Ringgold Quilts began a series of paintings called “American People” that portrayed the civil rights movement from a female perspective. In the 1970s she created African-inspired masks, painted political posters, and actively sought racial integration in the New York art world. In the 1980s she began a series of art quilts that are some of her best known works, and later she began a successful career as a children’s book author and illustrator.

Faith Ringgold Quilts has also won many awards. She has written and illustrated numerous children’s books, including Tar Beach (1991) and Harlem Renaissance Party (2015), as well as the autobiography We Flew Over the Bridge (1995).

Influenced by her European travels, the creative incubation of her home life, and the racism and sexism of mid-century America, Ringgold approached painting with a grasp of subjectivity that was hard for gallerists and collectors to swallow.

Ringgold has exhibited in New York, Paris, London, Los Angeles, Chicago and many other cities.

Quilts of the famous Artist

Her work is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the High Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Faith Ringgold’s famous storybook quilts were inspired by her designer mother and Tibetan thangka (fabric paintings framed in brocade). She draws on quilt-making traditions to tell stories about herself and the African American experience in general. Her quilts focus on different historical periods and famous cultural figures such as Jacob Lawrence, Josephine Baker, and Zora Neale Hurston.

The Сrafts and Quilts of the famous Artist

After a completely unsuccessful attempt to publish her autobiography, at the turn of the decade, Faith Ringgold found a new way to tell her life story. Once again drawing inspiration from Tibetan art, Ringgold began a series of quilts that may now be her best-known works.

She made and presented her first quilt art, Echoes of Harlem, in 1980 (a year before her mother’s death) and subsequently created many other similar works. Eventually, she decided to add text to them.

Among her narrative quilts are:

“Who's Afraid of Aunt Jemima” (1983)
“Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima” (1983)
A tribute to Michael Jackson, “Who's Bad? (1988)”
A tribute to Michael Jackson, “Who’s Bad? (1988)”
“Woman on the Bridge” series (1988)
“Woman on the Bridge” series (1988)

Further Life and Career

Ringgold became a professor of art at the University of California, San Diego, where she taught until 2002.

Back in 1995 she published a memoir, We Flew Over the Bridge; she has now written and illustrated more than 15 other children’s books.

Faith Ringgold has received numerous awards for her contributions as an artist and activist, including the National Endowment for the Arts Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship for Painting, and the NAACP Image Award. Now her work continues to be exhibited in major museums around the world.

Faith Ringgold considers her “American People” series, begun in the summer of 1963, the start of her mature artistic work. Using a style she called “Super Realism,” Ringgold explored what was happening to black people in the United States and commented upon the Civil Rights movement from a woman’s point of view.

Now you can find many patchwork artists who have started quilting to live a more fulfilling life and achieve mindfulness. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite contemporary quilting artists who can truly inspire and encourage reflection.

Teresa Silva

Teresa Silva quilt

Teresa Silva is an excellent longarm quilter and author of the new Longarm Quilting Workbook. She has quilted for Moda Fabrics, Hoffman Fabrics, Tula Pink, Jaybird Quilts and many others! You can follow her creations.

Alyson Vega

Alyson Vega quilt

Pay special attention to her patchwork quilt of fabric pieces strung on a wireframe. What holds them together is unclear. But there’s something magical about British patchwork and quilting.

Timna Tarr

Timna Tarr quilt

Timna Tarr is an award-winning artist who designs and creates quilts for private and corporate collections. She is a sought-after speaker and has been featured in many books and magazines. She has a wonderful use of color and attention to detail.

Bisa Butler

Bisa Butler quilt

Bisa Butler is a phenomenal artist who specializes in quilted portraits. Her hallmark is her use of vibrant colors and subjects spanning different periods of history and country. This is a great example after Faith Ringgold of how stories are told through the fabric.

Ann Harwell

Ann Harwell quilt

Ann creates quilts that tell compelling stories, express feelings, and convey incredible ideas. At the center of her work is the pursuit of perfection. Often created from hundreds of tiny pieces of fabric with precious flowers and patterns, her quilts are based on space, astral phenomena, and landscapes inspired by gardens and arboretums.

Emily Dennis

Emily Dennis quilt

Emily is a very modern quilter and author of “Modern Quilts, Block by Block.” She shows off her patterns, designs, and workshops on Instagram, and her colors always leave a nice sense of inspiration.

For six decades, American artist Faith Ringgold has worked in a variety of ways – to show the beauty and complexity of the African American experience.

Her exhibitions provide a powerful example to a new generation, highlighting the range of creativity in the artist’s work, as well as the educational message that art should be educational.

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