Faith Ringold is a distinguished black American artist, who was born in 1930. She came to prominence in the 1980s with her quilts which dealt with racial and gender inequalities. She has always been politically active and her work was included in the recent exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85.What strikes one most however from the quilts on view at Pippi Houldsworth is their optimistic and sunny atmosphere.
Even when we can see immediately that the content is activist, the style of representation is completely without aggression. Despite the prominent banner ‘Freedom Workers’ in Coming to Jones Road Part II, the standing group of figures are like a slightly haphazard and charming family group, complete with toddlers and a baby clasped in a mother’s arms. It would be missing the mark completely though to see this work as artless or, worse, naïve. In these works Ringold does not simply draw on the tradition of African-American quilt making, she enriches it through her passionate and imaginative involvement with the subject matter. They are also beautifully made. This artist richly deserves her place in the history books
Faith Ringold: Paintings and Story Quilts 1964-2017 is at the Pippi Houldsworth Gallery 23 February – 28 April