Skip Navigation

"The Art of Faith Ringgold" Opens at Thorne

Groovin High, a silkscreen by artist and author Faith Ringgold
Groovin High, a silkscreen by artist and author Faith Ringgold

KEENE, N.H., 8/25/08 - Faith Ringgold, an award-winning author and artist, exhibits a variety of artwork spanning 44 years at the Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery from Monday, September 8, through Sunday, November 23.

“African/American Influences: The Art of Faith Ringgold” showcases this African-American artist’s story quilts, oil paintings from the 1960s, works on paper - including prints and tankas from the 1970s - and soft sculpture such as masks and dolls. The exhibit includes the original layouts for Tar Beach, Ringgold’s first children’s book, which won more than 20 awards, including the prestigious Caldecott Honor Book of 1992. The Caldecott honor is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to the artist of an American picture book for children.

Visitors to the exhibit may take Ringgold’s online survey on racial identity by sitting at a computer. The survey is a conceptual study on race and color in America to determine what a person would feel, think, and do if their racial identity was suddenly changed.

The Friends of the Thorne Education Program, from October 20 to 31, focuses on this exhibit. The program for K-12 schoolchildren and senior citizen groups includes a guided tour of the exhibit and a hands-on art project. To schedule a group visit, contact Colleen Johnson at 603-358-2731.

“African/American Influences” showcases works from 1962 to 2006, which reflect Ringgold’s American upbringing as well as the influence of her African heritage. Ringgold, who was born in 1930 in Harlem, was one of the first female artists who began making art objects in a medium formally known as women’s work (textiles, sewn fabrics, weaving, quilting) and started exhibiting their work as serious art rather than craft.

She created her first political paintings, The American People Series, from 1963 to 1967 and had her first and second one-person exhibitions at the Spectrum Gallery in New York. In the early 1970s, Ringgold began making tankas, inspired by a Tibetan art form of paintings framed in richly brocaded fabric, soft sculptures, and masks. She made her first quilt, Echoes of Harlem, in 1980. Her paintings were bordered with fabric and quilted, creating a unique way of painting using the quilt medium.

Although Ringgold’s art was initially inspired by African art in the 1960s, it was not until the late 1970s that she traveled to Nigeria and Ghana to see the rich tradition of masks that have continued to be her greatest influence.

She recently retired as professor of art at the University of California in San Diego and now lives and works in Englewood, New Jersey. She holds bachelor and master’s degrees in visual art from the City College of New York. Ringgold has published and illustrated 15 books, including the children’s books Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky and My Dream of Martin Luther King. Her autobiography and first book for an adult audience, We Flew Over the Bridge: The Memoirs of Faith Ringgold, was published in 1995.

The exhibit and educational programs are free and open to the public. The gallery is open from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday through Wednesday, and noon to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday. During the KSC Children’s Literature Festival, hours will be extended from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 1.

The gallery is accessible to people with disabilities. To request accommodations for a disability, please call the gallery at least two weeks before your visit. For information, call 603-358-2720 or visit

Related Stories

Contact Keene State College

229 Main Street
Keene, New Hampshire 03435