Faith Ringgold (October 8, 1930)
[Ringgold] began putting on her canvases the racial and political tumult of the ’60s — and the rage she often felt. In 1963, she began a series of 20 paintings called “The American People,” which depicted confrontations between white and black people. Her 1967 painting Die shows a violent street riot. White and black faces peer through bloodied stars and stripes in The Flag Is Bleeding. “It was what was going on in America and I wanted them to look at these paintings and see themselves. … I wanted to create art that made people stop and look. You’ve got to get ‘em and hold ‘em: The more they look, the more they see.”
Ringgold wanted us to look at the realities of race in this country — the pain and brutality of it — but she found no ready audience. She says it’s taken 50 years to get these tough paintings exhibited. Part of it, she thinks, is because she was showing “too damn much” back then. “You can get by very easily without saying quite so much,” she says.
Source: Susan Stamberg’s "Stories of Race in America Captured on Quilt and Canvas"
American People Series #20: Die, 1967, oil on canvas.
American People Series #18: The Flag Is Bleeding, 1967, oil on canvas.
Photo source: The Associated Press