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With her works Faith Ringgold tries to make people aware about the problem of racism.

“I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe!” These are the latest words George Floyd pronounced before dying choked by a police officer.

In my opinion in these words we can find a deeper meaning: in the entire history of United States people who were born Black, have always been suffocated, they have always paid a heavy price just because of their skin colour. Excluded just because they were considered “different” and especially “lower” than white people. Racism in the U.S.A and even in European nations is a problem that continues to exist and that in recent times very often came forward in violent acts. A problem that many White people try to hide and SUFFOCATE, but that still exists and that continues to get out.

In the history of art there have been many artists who discussed this topic in their works. Painters, designers, stylists have tried to communicate their kind of frustration about this situation.

Black and white shot of black artist and painter Faith Ringgold
Faith Ringgold, black and white

Faith Ringgold is an Afroamerican painter who was born in Harlem, New York City, in 1930 and in her career has always been at the forefront fighting against social problems such as racism. She grew up during the “Great Depression” and for some health problems she didn’t attend school, so her mum taught her how to sew, while her grandma taught her how to put together different patches for telling a story. In the Afroamerican culture this is a very important skill: to create something “physical” that tells you a story. This is important because many Ringgold’s works are actual quilts which have something to say.

Black artist Faith Ringgold's artwork
Faith Ringgold, “Double dutch on the Golden Gate bridge”

In her creations, Faith wants to connect different generations and different stories and she wants to describe how human beings can be bad. She desires to make people aware of injustices, prejudices and inequality that Afroamerican people have suffered for all these years. Her works are “containers” of very precious informations about her culture and her origins and of the idea that white people have about Afroamerican people and vice versa.

Ringgold’s paintings are usually contained inside fabric square with floral pattern. The artist has an original way to face the topic of racism. She creates positive examples representing black young people smiling and having fun, thinking about racism as something which destroys our society irreparably. In many of her works are also represented some aspects of Afroamerican culture, such as for example music or dancing.

Black artist Faith Ringgold's painting
Faith Ringgold, “Groovin’ high”

The colours used in her painting are often sparkly and never too dark, this is why she wants to transmit positive vibes in the soul of the observers, even if she is discussing about something important as racism.

Black artist Faith Ringgold's artwork
Faith Ringgold, “The Declaration of Freedom and Independence”

In this work what the observer immediately sees is the indifference of white people looking at black people murdered.

Black artist Faith Ringgold's painting
“The American People Series #20: Die, 1967”

This painting may recall to our mind “Guernica” by Picasso, but in this case subjects are different: it represents the perpetual, useless “war” and violence between people in the society we live in.

One of her most famous work is “The Flag is Bleeding” (1997), that shows a black woman seriously hurt, hugging two kids. In the background the United States flag that is bleeding too.

Black artist Faith Ringgold's artwork
“The Flag is Bleeding” (1997)

Also the painting called “We Came to America” which gives us such a creepy feeling watching all those black men dying behind the “Statue of Liberty”, as living in the United States was a curse instead of a joy.

Black artist Faith Ringgold's painting
“We Came to America”

In her career Faith Ringgold has also represented important political men who have made American history with their speech and messages, such as Martin Luther King and Barack Obama.

Article by

Sara Orlandini


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