Faith Ringgold Art History Lesson

Faith Ringgold art history lesson for kids.

This Faith Ringgold art history lesson is a lovely introduction to contemporary art.

Includes an easy, hands-on Ringgold-inspired art project that’s fun for any age group.

Who was Faith Ringgold?

Faith Ringgold, an influential African American artist, author, and activist, has left an indelible mark on the world of contemporary art.

Through her innovative blend of storytelling, quilting, and painting, Ringgold has challenged societal norms, championed civil rights, and celebrated the rich cultural heritage of the African American experience.

Early Life and Education

Faith Ringgold was born Faith Willi Jones on October 8, 1930, in Harlem, New York City. Growing up in the vibrant cultural epicenter of Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance, Ringgold was immersed in a community that nurtured creativity and resilience. Her mother, a fashion designer, and her father, a truck driver and preacher, instilled in her a deep appreciation for art and social justice.

Ringgold attended the City College of New York, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art and education in 1955. Later, she pursued graduate studies in art at the City College and at the College of New Rochelle.

Artistic Style and Influences

Faith Ringgold’s artistic style is characterized by a unique fusion of traditional African American quilting techniques and narrative storytelling. She draws inspiration from the rich tapestry of African American history, culture, and folklore, infusing her work with vibrant colors, bold patterns, and symbolic imagery.

Ringgold’s use of quilting as a medium is deeply rooted in African American traditions of community, resistance, and self-expression. Quilts, historically associated with warmth and comfort, become powerful vehicles for conveying complex narratives and challenging dominant narratives of race, gender, and identity.

Story Quilts: A Medium for Social Commentary

One of Faith Ringgold’s most renowned contributions to the art world is her pioneering use of the “story quilt” format.
Combining elements of painting, quilting, and storytelling, Ringgold’s story quilts serve as visual narratives that explore themes of race, family, history, and personal identity.

In works such as Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima? and Tar Beach, Ringgold employs vivid colors and intricate stitching to depict scenes from African American life and history.

Activism and Advocacy

Throughout her career, Faith Ringgold has been a vocal advocate for social justice and equality. Inspired by the civil rights movement and the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Ringgold’s art serves as a powerful tool for raising awareness, fostering dialogue, and inspiring change.

In addition to her artistic endeavors, Ringgold has authored numerous children’s books and memoirs, including Tar Beach, which won the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration in 1992. Through her writing, Ringgold continues to engage young readers in conversations about history, culture, and social justice.

Legacy and Impact

Faith Ringgold’s impact on the world of contemporary art extends far beyond her own creative achievements. As a pioneering African American artist and activist, Ringgold has paved the way for future generations of artists to explore issues of identity, race, and representation in their work.

Her innovative use of quilting as a medium has inspired artists across disciplines and sparked renewed interest in traditional African American craft traditions. Ringgold’s commitment to storytelling and social commentary continues to resonate with audiences around the world, reminding us of the power of art to provoke thought, evoke emotion, and inspire change.

In conclusion, Faith Ringgold’s life and work stand as a testament to the transformative power of art and the enduring legacy of African American creativity and resilience. Through her bold vision, unwavering commitment to social justice, and innovative approach to storytelling, Ringgold has enriched the world with her unique voice and inspired countless individuals to imagine a more just and equitable future.

Suggested Reading

Suggested reading for this Faith Ringgold art history lesson for kids.

I’m always looking for high-quality art history books for kids!

My library had a copy of (affiliate link—->) DK Publishing’s Faith Ringgold:  Narrating the World in Pattern and Color and made the perfect compliment to this lesson.

Key Vocabulary

Contemporary Art: Art produced in the present time, reflecting current cultural, social, and political contexts, often pushing boundaries and experimenting.

Fusion:  Art that combines elements from diverse artistic styles, traditions, or mediums, creating innovative and eclectic works that defy conventional categorization.

Harlem Renaissance: A cultural, social, and artistic movement in Harlem, New York, during the 1920s, celebrating African American culture and identity.

Narrative Storytelling: The art of conveying stories through various mediums such as literature, visual arts, or performance, often with structured plots.

Social Commentary: Artistic expression that critiques or reflects on societal issues, often provoking thought and encouraging dialogue about social norms.

Social Justice: The pursuit of equality and fairness in society, advocating for the rights of marginalized groups and challenging systemic inequalities.

Faith Ringgold Inspired Project Idea

This project is inspired by Faith Ringgold’s famous use of fabric as a form of self-expression.

It’s also a great way to use up scraps!



-1/2 cup craft glue

-1/2 cup water

-scrap fabrics

-canvas (any size)

Step 1

Mix a one-t0-one ratio of water to glue in a small bowl (for example, 1 cup water, 1 cup glue).  Blend thoroughly with a disposable spoon or craft stick.

Step 2

Cut fabric strips from scrap fabric.  Fully saturate the fabric with the glue/water formula.  Squeeze out excess liquid.

Step 3

Drape the fabric over the canvas, taking care to wrap the end of each strip around the back of the canvas.  (You can trim it later).

Don’t worry if the fabric is bumpy or not perfectly smooth.  It adds to the texture!

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