Writing Art History Since 2002

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Artist, author, educator, and organiser Faith Ringgold is one of the most influential cultural figures of her generation, with a career linking the multidisciplinary practices of the Harlem Renaissance to the political art of young Black artists working today.

Faith Ringgold (b. 1930, New York, NY), American People Series #19: U.S. Postage Stamp Commemorating the Advent of Black Power, 1967. Oil on canvas; 73 1/272 × 96 in. (182.9 × 243.8 cm). Courtesy the artist and ACA Galleries, New York. © 2023 Faith Ringgold / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Faith Ringgold: American People presents the most comprehensive assessment to date of the artist’s impactful vision. For 60 years, Ringgold has drawn from personal autobiography and collective histories to both document her life as an artist and mother and to amplify collective struggles for social justice and equity. From creating some of the most indelible artworks of the civil rights era to challenging accepted hierarchies of art versus craft, Ringgold has produced a body of work that bears witness to the complexity of the American experience.

Featuring Ringgold’s best-known series – such as her experimental story quilts, renowned painting series American People and Black Light, soft sculptures, performance objects, and ephemera related to her activist work – the exhibition examines the artist’s figurative style as it evolved to meet the urgency of political and social change. The exhibition also foregrounds her radical explorations of gender and racial identities, which the artist incorporates into the rich textures of her paintings, soft sculptures, and story quilts. Among the most important artworks of the past half century, Ringgold’s fabric works combine local traditions and global references to compose a polyphonic history of this country. The MCA’s presentation of Faith Ringgold: American People also includes a section with works from the MCA’s collection that contextualises Ringgold’s wide-ranging practice in art history with works by artists either influenced by or in conversation with Ringgold or themes in her work. Long overdue, this retrospective provides a timely opportunity to experience the art of an American icon.

The MCA presentation of ‘Faith Ringgold: American People’ is curated by Jamillah James, Manilow Senior Curator, with Jack Schneider, Assistant Curator. The exhibition was originally organised by the New Museum, New York, and curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director, and Gary Carrion-Murayari, Kraus Family Curator, with Madeline Weisburg, Curatorial Assistant.

The exhibition is presented in the Griffin Galleries of Contemporary Art on the museum’s fourth floor. The exhibition will be on view from the 18th of November, 2023, until the 25th of February, 2024. For more information, please visit the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

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