What was the inspiration for this piece?
Ringgolds' self portraiture coincided with the development of her American People Series. As a black artist establishing her career in the Civil Right's Movement, she explored what it meant to represent one's self through art. Faith Ringgold has said about her work, “I wanted my painting to express this moment I knew was history. I wanted to give my woman’s point of view to this period.”
Self-portraits seem rare in We Wanted a Revolution.
Although abstraction was the most popular style of painting at the time, Ringgold decided to explore her inner and outer self through her art and, in this case specifically, through self-portraiture. She wanted to communicate a message about identity in a changing political and social climate.
This is a great work that not many people in the exhibition talk about. It's actually a self portrait of Ringgold made at the beginning of her career.
She was establishing herself as an artist during the civil rights era and even though abstraction was the most popular style of the time, she decided to portray her own image and inner and outer self through her art.
When she painted this portrait, it was her largest work to date. The was she dominated the composition and extends beyond the canvas suggests resilience and strenth.
The colors and style are captivating. Ringgold said "I still painted figures, but without the use of chiaroscuro—realistic but flat—to lend a high degree of visibility to the image of the American black person"
So striking. I especially like the position of her arms, so nurturing.
Definitely! When Ringgold painted this work, she was a mother of two daughters. Her gesture is both gentle and guarded. Perhaps reflecting her struggle to garner a reputation and representation in the art world.
Tell me more about Faith Ringgold's 1965 piece.
This self portrait coincided with her figurative American People Series (1963-65). As a black artist establishing her career during the Civil Rights Movement, Ringgold embraced her image and explored what it meant to represent one's inner and outer self through art.
How did Faith Ringgold use her influence?
At the time of this painting, "Early Works #25: Self-Portrait" Ringgold was just starting out and trying to establish herself in the art world. It was understandably difficult, not just as a new artist but as a black woman artist. She would go on to be one of the most well-known artists in the We Wanted A Revolution show.
She certainly used her influence to elevate other black women artists at the time. She collaborated with Kay Brown and Dindga McCannon in the founding of a collective of black women artists called "Where We At."
What aspect of this piece would you say make it profound?
A few factors. The first is that Ringgold was working in a figurative style at a time when abstraction was the favored style. She was also aware of the tradition of artists' self-portraits in Western art and thinking about the absence of black women (and artists) in Western Art History. In light of this, she made herself the subject, effectively making herself a part of the story both as a black woman and as an up and coming artist.
Faith Ringgold herself has said: "I wanted my painting to express this moment I knew was history. I wanted to give my woman’s point of view to this period.”