In celebration of Pomegranate’s commitment to inclusivity, we’re proud to spotlight some of the brilliant women artists in their catalogue. Read more about Pomegranate here below.
Artists have explored the intersection of politics and art for generations. It can be seen as a tool to explore issues that words simply cannot do, and allow for viewers to engage with a piece in a way that highlights the emotions and message that the artist was trying to convey. Marginalized communities, particularly Black women, have gravitated towards using the arts to discuss the social issues that were impacting them. One of the most prominent artists of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s was Faith Ringgold, a multidisciplinary artist, whose work is currently featured as a Pomegranate calendar.
Although The Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s was mainly defined by the influential literary work that was produced by poets and authors such as Sonia Sanchez and Audre Lorde, Faith’s artistry brought a new layer to the movement, by allowing viewers to interact with visuals in an innovative way.
Faith’s work and her activism constantly overlap, seemingly due to her childhood influence of the Harlem Renaissance that took place during her youth. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Ringgold details the significance of the Harlem Renaissance on her childhood, ultimately impacting her work today.
“No matter how famous or important [Black artists] were, they lived in Harlem.” There was a lot of racism elsewhere in New York City, but her neighborhood was the exception, “because Harlem was for us,” said Faith.
“Harlem was for us…”
Some of her most poignant work on USA politics and the Black American experience can be seen in the narrative quilts she has created over the years. Quiltmaking in the USA has a longstanding history in the Black community. Scholar Floris Barnett Cash describes the significance of quiltmaking in the Black community as, “quilts can be used as resources in reconstructing the experiences of African American women. They provide a record of their cultural and political past. They are important art forms.”
This statement rings particularly true for Faith’s work. Quilts such as the Street Story Quilt and Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima offer important narratives of the Black woman experience that often have been ignored in mainstream American history. The quilt Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima was Ringgold’s first “story quilt” and contributed to the reckoning of the racist stereotype of Aunt Jemima and her impact on Black women. Faith uses a variety of vibrant colors to grab the viewer’s attention such as yellow, gold and floral patterns. It also features images of Black professional women which work to combat the racist narrative of Black women being “lazy” and “unprofessional.”
Also, it is important to highlight that the quilt features text from Faith that shows her discontent with the lack of positive representations of women in media. Ultimately,it highlights how the most prominent representation of Black women for decades was of Aunt Jemima, who represented the offensive “mammy” narrative. Until 2020, “mammy” was the face of the brand.
Pomegranate’s Faith Ringgold 2022 calendar highlights twelve of Faith’s most thought-provoking pieces of work. Works such as Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles and Maya’s Quilt of Life demonstrate her passion for showcasing influential Black women who have had an impact on American history.
The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles is a lithograph that features eight key figures including journalist Ida B. Wells and activist Rosa Park, surrounded by other Black women who have each had an impact on arts and social policy (see featured photo above). The sunflower quilt that the women hold up states that the women are part of The Sunflowers Quilters Society of America, it also states what the quilt means to them: “An International Symbol of Our Dedication to Change the World.” This quote calls to how the sunflower is a symbol of longevity, peace and optimism, which are character traits that can be seen in each one of these women. Painter Vincent Van Gogh is also depicted in this work, due to the widely-recognized symbolic use of the sunflower in his work.
In an interview, Oprah Winfrey described Maya Angelou as
“our mother, sister, friend and teacher.”
Maya’s Quilt of Life is an ode to poet Maya Angelou. The quilt was commissioned by Oprah Winfrey in 1989 for Angelou’s birthday. In an interview, Oprah described Maya as “our mother, sister, friend and teacher.” The work depicts Maya in a wooded forest surrounded by flowers and blooming trees. She is wearing one of her signature African print dresses and headscarf, showcasing Maya’s pride in her African heritage. It also depicts excerpts from Maya’s best-known work including I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and The Heart of A Woman. The poetic excerpts that are done in Maya’s handwriting depict how much Maya and Faith Ringgold had in common due to their determination to use their work to break the mold of stereotypes of Black women in American society.
Regardless of the decade, Faith’s innovative way of depicting the Black experience in the USA transcends generations. Sometimes words are not enough to convey emotions ranging from anger and disillusionment to hope. Faith continues to influence young creatives, inspiring them to continue writing their own stories.
A new Faith Ringgold 2022 Wall Calendar is available for purchase on Pomegranate.com. Check it out here!
Remember: When you order directly from Pomegranate the artists receive a larger percentage of sales.
© Jessica Bond (12/6/21) Special for FF2 Media
See puzzle in Pomegranate’s Faith Ringgold collection.
Read May 2021 profile of Faith Ringgold by Ellen E. Jones (referenced above) in The Guardian.
Click below to read the text excerpts to be found on Maya’s Quilt of Life, including Maya Angelo’s immortal words:
And click HERE to hear Maya Angelou recite “Phenomenal Woman” phenomenally!
CREDITS & PERMISSIONS
Images from Pomegranate’s 2022 Faith Ringgold calendar have been provided by Pomegranate and are used here by FF2 Media with their permission. All Rights Reserved by Pomegranate.