At ACA Galleries, American Stories by Faith Ringgold

NEW YORK—Today, Faith Ringgold is closely identified with her legendary story quilts—mixed media works that combine painting and fiber craft to create narratives about African American life, race and place. Perhaps her most well-known work, “Tar Beach” (1988), depicts a family relaxing on the tar roof of their Harlem building while in the distance a woman magically flies over the George Washington Bridge.

A special retrospective at ACA Galleries presents Ringgold’s story quilts and also provides a rare opportunity to view her early paintings. The bold expressive paintings are from two series, “American People” (1962-1967) and “Black Light” (1967-1969) in which she makes profound statements about racism and gender issues. According to the gallery, many of these “pointed political paintings…had previously disappeared from view.” Finally on exhibit now, viewing the works is a moving experience and provides a whole new appreciation for the breadth of Ringgold’s oeuvre.

“Faith Ringgold’s America: Early Works and Story Quilts” is on view at ACA Galleries from March 2 to April 27, 2013. Tomorrow is the final day of the exhibit, which will travel to the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., where it will on exhibit from June 21 to Nov. 10, 2013.

All photos © Arts Observer

The Ringgold retrospective features story quilts and earlier paintings from the 1960s.

Detail of American People Series #1: “Big Black,” 1967 (oil on canvas).

Installation view of American People Series #20: “Die,” 1967 (oil on canvas).

“Who’s Bad?,” 1988 (acrylic on canvas).

From left, Jazz Stories: Mama Can Sing, Papa Can Blow #1: “Somebody Stole My Broken Heart,” 2004 (acrylic on canvas with pieced border) and “Mahalia We Love You,” 2011 (acrylic on paper).

Detail of Black Light Series #12: “Party Time,” 1969 (oil on canvas).

Installation view of 1960s paintings.

From left, Black Light Series #8: “Red White and Black Nigger,” 1969 and #7: “Ego Painting,” 1969 (both oil on canvas).

From left, American People Series #17: “The Artist and His Model,” 1966 and #9: “American Dream,” 1964 (both acrylic on canvas).

The Lover’s Trilogy #2: “Sleeping,” 1986 (acrylic on canvas with pieced fabric border). In background at left, “Who’s Bad?”

Black Light Series #10, “Flag for the Moon: Die Nigger,” 1967/69 (oil on canvas).

Read the stripes from the bottom up and then the read the star section.

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