What the Artist Saw Faith Ringgold


Faith Ringgold sought inspiration from her summers in Massachusetts. She’d been telling and imagining stories since her Harlem childhood, taking on the mantle of ‘class artist‘ when she started school.

While being female barred her from a place at art school as a female, she took up a teaching position after graduating from the School of Education. However, her curiosity and need to create was unabated.

Thereafter, the 1960’s and the rise of the American Civil Rights’ Movement inspired this artist to become the trailblazer we know today. She took up the needle as her mother did, but used it to create quilts. After all, ‘quilting, weaving and sewing are tied to women, working in the home and African traditions‘. Thereafter she painted portraits, included on quilts, of stories she’d heard as a child, people she’d encountered, and incidents and tales of racism. These works took her to worldwide attention. Her creativity, craft, storytelling and dynamism inspire and inform.

Bookwagon welcomes What the Artist Saw Faith Ringgold aboard. This is a superb biography alongside a really informative, inspiring tale. We look forward to sharing further titles in this rich series.

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What the Artist Saw Faith Ringgold

Narrating the World in Pattern and Colour

Sharna Jackson, illustrated by Andrea Pippins

(Penguin Random House DK)- hardback

It seems Faith Ringgold’s early illness inspired a need to write and draw and tell stories. Thereafter, these become about ‘imagined worlds and the people who lived in them’. However her own Harlem setting, and family, offered rich stories in themselves. Yet her need to draw and paint grew from her early years as the ‘class artist‘ to winning a place at the School of Education, to become an art teacher. Thereafter, Faith’s need to paint saw her take up a studio space and seek inspiration from everything about her.
However events in the early 1960’s, with the American Civil Rights’ Movement developed Faith’s understanding that ‘she needed to tell her story’. This meant that her work ‘became political’- ‘inspired by events that she saw in the present- and from her past’.
What the Artist Saw Faith Ringgold tracks the story of a trailblazing, informed, creative, alongside showing us the development of her work and style. What’s more, through her biography, we realise what she has experienced, from racial and sexual segregation, to creative changes. Like Meet the Artist: Georgia O’Keeffe, there is information and inspiration in this title. Then again, we are learning about a living artist, and then someone with whom we are not, but should be, familiar.
Bookwagon is excited about this series and recommends this first selection, What the Artist Saw Faith Ringgold, highly. Alongside the information, we’ve questions to consider. We suggest this book is ideal for school, or home too.


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