Faith Ringgold was born in 1930 in Harlem in New York City. She earned a bachelor’s degree from City College of the City University of New York in 1955. She taught art in New York City public schools and completed her master’s degree at City College in 1959.
Ringgold’s oil paintings and posters of the mid to late 1960s contained strong political messages in support of the civil rights movement. Her first solo gallery shows were in 1967 and 1970 at the cooperative Spectrum Gallery in New York. From 1968-1970, she demonstrated against the exclusion of black and women artists by the Whitney Museum of Modern Art. In 1970 she was arrested for desecrating the American flag while participating in “The People’s Flag Show” at the Judson Memorial Church in New York. Ringgold was a co- founder of “Where We At”, an African- American women artists group in 1971. She gave up teaching in public schools in 1973 to devote more time to her art.
Ringgold’s prints “Anyone Can Fly” and “We Came To America” are adapted from her famous Tonka storytelling quilts. These prints are in keeping with the political and social commentary for which Ringgold is noted. Since 1984, she has been a professor at the University of California in San Diego and in 1991 she adapted the story quilt, “Tar Beach” into a children’s book.
Retrospectives of Ringgold’s work have been organized by Rutgers University, New Brunswick (1973), the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (1984), and the Fine Arts Museum of Long Island, Hempstead (1990). Her achievements have been recognized with numerous honors, among them a National Endowment for the Arts award in sculpture in 1978, (and one for painting in 1989), a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 1987 and fifteen honorary doctorates.