Above: Faith Ringgold, Tar Beach #2, 1990. Silkscreen on silk, 60 x 90 in. © 2017 Faith Ringgold, member Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.

EXHIBITION: Faith Ringgold: An American Artist
VENUE: Crocker Art Museum, 216 O Street, Sacramento, CA
DATES: February 18, 2018 — May 13, 2018

  • Four-decade survey of artist's career
  • Includes one of Ringgold's most famous narrative quilts and illustrations for the children's book it inspired

Sacramento, Calif – UPDATED December 22, 2017 - On February 18, 2018, the Crocker Art Museum will bring to Sacramento Faith Ringgold: An American Artist, an exhibition of Ringgold’s famous story quilts, tankas (inspired by thangkas, Tibetan textile paintings), oil paintings, prints, drawings, masks, sculptures, and original illustrations from the artist’s award-winning book Tar Beach.

While Ringgold's work has been featured in a Sacramento gallery show before, the Crocker's exhibition brings together more than 40 examples of Ringgold’s varied production spanning several decades, from the 1960s through the first years of the current century. The works on view highlight themes of family life, relationships, and jazz music, as well as race and the history of slavery in America.

“Faith Ringgold has long been an important voice about the discrimination felt by many artists of color, women, and other minorities,” said Crocker Art Museum Director and CEO, Lial Jones. “In addition to highlighting stories that must be heard, she creates engaging work that speaks to all, and I am delighted that we are bringing her art back to Sacramento for the public to view.”

Faith Ringgold, We Came to America, 1998. Color etching, 1/15, 15 1/2 x 19 3/4 in. © 2017 Faith Ringgold, member Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Faith Ringgold has been telling her story through art for over half a century. Best known for her “story quilts,” Ringgold is also a painter, mixed-media sculptor, performance artist, activist, author, and teacher.

The youngest of four children, Ringgold was born in Harlem, New York, in 1930 — just six months after her 18-month-old brother died of pneumonia. Named Faith as a symbol of healing and hope, the artist recalls her childhood as “the most wonderful period ... until now.” She was surrounded by imaginative people and spent much of her youth cultivating her own creativity. Faith’s father was a gifted storyteller, and her mother a successful fashion designer. Because of her chronic asthma, Ringgold passed much time indoors, coloring with crayons, sewing, and working with her mother’s fabrics.

Describing her youth, Faith said, “I grew up in Harlem during the Great Depression. This did not mean I was poor and oppressed. We were protected from oppression and surrounded by a loving family.” Ringgold’s parents made sure their children experienced the vibrant cultural happenings of the Harlem Renaissance. Neighbors included future legends like Duke Ellington and Langston Hughes. Faith’s childhood friend, Sonny Rollins, who would himself become an influential jazz musician, often visited and played his saxophone.

In the 1950s, Ringgold completed a bachelor’s degree in fine art and education and a master’s degree in art at the City College of New York. “I got a fabulous education in art — wonderful teachers who taught me everything except anything about African art or African American art. But I traveled and took care of that part myself.” She had two daughters with her husband, jazz and classical pianist Robert Earl Wallace, but was divorced after four years.

Faith Ringgold, Jazz Stories: Mama Can Sing, Papa Can Blow #1: Somebody Stole My Broken Heart, 2004. Acrylic on canvas with pieced border, 80 1/2 x 67 in. © 2017 Faith Ringgold, member Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.

The following decade held several turning points for the artist. Ringgold traveled to Europe, visiting museums in Paris, Florence, and Rome. In 1962, she married Burdette “Birdie” Ringgold, taking his last name. One day, the couple visited a Manhattan gallery to show the gallerist examples of Ringgold’s still lifes and landscapes. The gallerist responded, “You can’t do that.” Ringgold came to realize, “what she’s saying is: It’s the 1960s, all hell is breaking loose all over, and you’re painting flowers and leaves. You can’t do that. Your job is to tell your story.”

Ringgold responded by addressing the subject of race in America in her first series of political paintings, The American People, and became involved in the artistic and political events of the era. She, with others, formed the Ad Hoc Women's Art Committee, protesting the Whitney Museum of American Art’s virtual exclusion of women from its annual show (the Whitney’s 1969 Annual included only eight women out of 151 total artists). The protesters demanded 50-percent women, and though the Whitney didn’t meet this goal, the museum did include 20 percent the following year.

In the 1970s, Ringgold returned to her roots in working with fabric, making masks, sculptures, and tankas for her masked performances. She made her first story quilts in the 1980s, combining images with text as a way of publishing her own, unedited words. “During that time, I was trying to get my autobiography published, but no one wanted to print my story. In 1983, I began writing stories on my quilts as an alternative. That way, when my quilts were hung up to look at, or photographed for a book, people could still read my stories. They are written the way I write my children's stories — each section written on the quilt is a page.”

Today, Ringgold is included in the Whitney’s collection, and she continues to champion equality and freedom of speech, opening the art world for female artists and artists of color.

“In the exhibition Faith Ringgold: An American Artist, there is warmth, charm, and straightforward honesty in Ringgold’s art,” said Crocker Art Museum Associate Curator Kristina Gilmore. “It draws us in and disarms us, then often reveals powerful messages. Through her work, she speaks truths that are sometimes haunting and painful, but often joyful and heartwarming. It’s quite inspirational.”

High resolution images of several works featured in this exhibition are available to the press/media upon request.

Karen Christian
Media Relations Associate, Crocker Art Museum


Hopes Springing High: Gifts of African American Art
February 18 – June 24, 2018
In recognition of Black History Month and the opening of Faith Ringgold: An American Artist, the Crocker Art Museum will install a concurrent exhibition of recent acquisitions and promised gifts of art by African American artists. The title of the exhibition takes its name from the poem Still I Rise by acclaimed poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. As in Angelou’s poem, we honor the strength and resiliency of African Americans, elevating their voices and highlighting their contributions to art and the Museum’s growing collection.The majority of artists featured in the exhibition worked from 1950 to the present day. RomareBearden, Beauford Delaney, Hayward Ellis King, Evangeline Juliet “EJ” Montgomery, Betye Saar, Alison Saar, Sam Gilliam, Elizabeth Catlett, Norman Lewis, Richard Mayhew, Faith Ringgold, Alma WoodseyThomas, Allen Stringfellow, and Mickalene Thomas will all be represented in this exhibition.

Black History Month Celebration: A Free Family Festival
February 18, 12 - 4 p.m.
Black History Month Free Family Festival returns to Sacramento with live performances, hands-on activities, and our community’s one-and-only Black and Beautiful Community Marketplace. This year’s festival will feature the one-woman exhibition Faith Ringgold: An American Artist and the concurrent exhibition of works by African American artists, Hopes Springing High: Gifts of African American Art. The celebration will feature explosive beats by Grant High School’s renowned drumline, drama by Celebration Arts, and a special "Baby, that’s Jazz" presentation exploring African American musical roots and legacy. If that’s not enough, inspired by the history-making Black Panther film, the Festival will explore AfroFuturism in art and music! Get ready to sing-along, call, respond, and most of all celebrate the amazing contributions of many African Americans. This event, as well as general admission to the Museum, are free for everyone on February 18, 2018. More information HERE.

Women, Art, and History: E. Charlton Fortune, Corita Kent, and Faith Ringgold in Context
Three Sundays, February 25 – March 11, 1 – 3 p.m.
This spring, the Crocker will host three exhibitions, each devoted to an important American female artist: E. Charlton Fortune, Corita Kent, and Faith Ringgold. Because the dates of these shows overlap, they offer a unique opportunity to explore in depth the subject of women in 20th-century art history. From Fortune’s picturesque Impressionism to Kent’s spiritually-infused Pop and Ringgold’s socially-engaged quilts, we will explore the unique contributions these women and their sister artists have made to the history of American art. Ticket information HERE.
Instructor: Kevin Muller

Panel Talk: Art and Activism
March 22, 2018, 6:30 p.m.
The lives and work of Corita Kent and Faith Ringgold, featured in exhibitions at the Crocker through May 13, offer stirring examples of artistic practices extended into activism. In this provocative panel talk, we take inspiration from these women to hear from and about artists connecting art and social justice. Speakers will include Michael Duncan, a scholar and curator of Corita Kent's work, and Lizzetta LeFalle-Collins, a scholar of Black artists who has studied the work of Faith Ringgold for many years. Attendees will be encouraged to ask questions and share their own ideas about the role art can play to increase awareness of injustice and act as a bridge toward understanding divergent viewpoints. Tickets available HERE.

Lunch & Learn
April 3, 2018, 12 & 1 p.m.
Join an in-depth examination of Faith Ringgold’s large silkscreen Tar Beach #2. Before or after the 30-minute gallery conversation, take time to enjoy lunch at the Crocker Cafe by Supper Club. More information HERE.


The Crocker Art Museum’s mission is to promote an awareness of and enthusiasm for human experience through art.

About the Crocker Art Museum
Accredited with the American Alliance of Museums for characteristics of excellence, the Crocker Art Museum features the world’s foremost display of California art and is renowned for its holdings of European master drawings and international ceramics. The Crocker serves as the primary regional resource for the study and appreciation of fine art and holds permanent collections of Californian, European, Asian, African, and Oceanic art, works on paper, ceramics, and photography. The Museum offers a diverse spectrum of exhibitions, events, and programs to augment its collections, including films, concerts, studio classes, lectures, children’s activities, and more. The Museum has also dedicated the historic building’s entire first floor as an education center, which includes four classrooms, space for student and community exhibitions, the Gerald Hansen Library, and Tot Land.

Hours & Admission
Museum hours are 10 AM – 5 PM, Tuesday through Sunday, and 10 AM – 9 PM on Thursdays. General admission is free for Crocker members, Adults $10, Seniors and College Students $8, Youth (7-17) $5, and Children 6 and under are free. Every third Sunday of the month is "Pay What You Wish Sunday", sponsored by Western Health Advantage.

Location & Parking
The Crocker is located at 216 O Street in downtown Sacramento. The Museum is accessible by Light Rail with stops close by at 8th & O and 8th & K streets. Bike racks are located in Crocker Park, across the street from the Museum’s front door. Ample parking is available within walking distance including street parking, parking lots, and public garages.

Social Media
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