At 93, pioneering Black quilt maker and author Faith Ringgold dies.  

New York — Faith Ringgold, an award-winning novelist and artist who broke down barriers for Black female artists and was known for her brightly colored and complex quilts that combined painting, weaving, and storytelling, died. She was 93.  reported that Ringgold died Friday night at her Englewood, New Jersey, home, according to her assistant Grace Matthews. Matthews claimed Ringgold was ill.  

From the Smithsonian's National Museum of American Art to New York's Museum of Modern Art to Atlanta's High Museum of Fine Art, Ringgold's profoundly personal paintings are in private and public collections nationwide.  

Her journey to popularity as a Black artist was difficult in a white-dominated art world and a political culture where Black men led civil rights movements. Ringgold founded the Where We At artists collective for Black women in 1971 and became a social activist, opposing the lack of Black and female artists in American institutions.  

“I became a feminist out of disgust for the manner in which women were marginalized in the art world,” she told The New York Times in 2019. “I began to incorporate this perspective into my work, focusing on Black women as slaves and sexual exploitation.”  

In “Tar Beach,” her first illustrated children's book, the adventurous heroine flies over the George Washington Bridge. The story represented women's self-realization and independence to face “this huge masculine icon — the bridge,” she said. Her narrative quilt of the same name is in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. Her vivid, joyful, and lighthearted folk-like style often evokes her happy recollections of Harlem, even if her works often address race and gender.  

After viewing thangkas, Ringgold began quilting in the 1970s. They prompted her to frame her canvas acrylic paintings with patchwork fabric borders and handwritten narration. In her 1982 narrative quilt, “Who's Afraid of Aunt Jemina,” Ringgold challenged the Black “mammy” stereotype and told the story of successful African American businesswoman Jemima Blakey.  

Aunt Jemima conveys the same negative connotation as Uncle Tom, simply because of her looks," she told The New York Times in 1990. Ringgold then created “The French Collection,” 12 quilt paintings that blended narrative, biographical, African American, and Western art.  

In “Dancing at the Louvre,” Ringgold's girls dance in the Paris museum, presumably unaware of the “Mona Lisa” and other European masterpieces that line the walls. Ringgold shows Black cultural titans like Langston Hughes with Pablo Picasso and other European masterpieces in other works.  

Ringgold developed and built a three-panel “9/11 Peace Story Quilt” with New York City kids for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Each panel has 12 squares with photos and words asking “what will you do for peace?” The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York displayed it. Her 2014 billboard on New York City's High Line park depicted "Groovin High," a busy, frenetic dance venue reminiscent of Harlem's Savoy Ballroom.  

Ringgold built several public works. The Los Angeles Civic Center subway station features 52 glass mosaics of sports, performing, and music figures—“People Portraits.” A Harlem subway station has two mosaic murals of Dinah Washington, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Malcolm X called “Flying Home: Harlem Heroes and Heroines”.

In her recent book “Harlem Renaissance Party,” Ringgold exposes young readers to Hughes and other 1920s Black artists. Other children's books feature Rosa Parks, MLK, and the Underground Railroad. In 1930, Ringgold was born in Harlem to a seamstress and fashion designer with whom she worked. At City College of New York, she obtained bachelor and master's degrees in art. She taught painting at UC San Diego from 1987 to 2002. Ringgold's website tagline is “If one can, anyone can, all you gotta do is try.”  

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