Feb 21, 2024 - Culture

Faith Ringgold retrospective on display in Chicago through this week

Painting of American Flag with splattered red paint and woman hugging two children and square divided into eight triangles with words Black, America, Ringgold on them.

Faith Ringgold's 1997 work (left) "TheFlag is Bleeding #2: The American Collection #6" and her 2023 painting " Black Light Series #7: Ego Painting." Images courtesy of MCA.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is hosting the city's first comprehensive exhibit of artist, activist and educator Faith Ringgold's work through Sunday.

The big picture: Ringgold is known for using different art forms, including story quilts, to document the African and Black experience in the U.S., but the MCA exhibit also displays her paintings, textile work and sculptures about the civil and women's rights movements.

Details: "Faith Ringgold: American People" showcases Ringgold's bold paintings depicting her community growing up in Harlem, alongside arresting images like a blood-splattered depiction of a violent scene during the civil rights era.

  • In a 1969 painting, Ringgold distorts the American flag by superimposing the n-word over the flag to protest what she saw as America's misguided priorities.
  • Ringgold said the artwork was her way "of saying that too many American people go to bed hungry, while the government spent billions to place their flag on the moon," according to her website.

Of note: The museum also incorporates works from its own collection by Black artists who were and are inspired by Ringgold, including Richard Hunt, Dawoud Bey, Mickalene Thomas and others.

What they're saying: The exhibition "is an overdue examination of an iconic artist whose work has been underseen in Chicago," Manilow senior curator Jamillah James said in a statement.

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