Chubb Fellowship Lecture:  Anyone Can Fly – Faith Ringgold

Chubb Fellowship Lecture:  Anyone Can Fly – Faith Ringgold


– Good afternoon. – Good afternoon.
– Good afternoon. – Good afternoon and welcome
to the Chubb Fellowship lecture with our distinguished
guest, Faith Ringgold, award-winning artist, author,
educator and activist. Today’s program is generously
supported by many units across Yale University’s campus. We wish to thank African-American Studies, American Studies Ethnicity,
Race and Migration, History of Art, Women and Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Afro-American Cultural Center, Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity and Transnational Migration,
the School of Art. And we especially wish to thank the Yale University Art Gallery for hosting today’s lecture
in this beautiful auditorium. So thank you YUAG. Before we begin I ask that
you turn off all cell phones and refrain from taking any
photographs during the program so that you do not
disrupt today’s program. And once we get started the
lights will be fully dimmed so just be careful of
your surroundings when you because the lights will be off. My name by the way is Mary Lui, I’m a professor in the
Department of History and the program in American Studies. I’m also the current head of college for Timothy Dwight College. As the head of Timothy Dwight
College I have the honor of serving as the custodian of the illustrious Chubb
Fellowship established in 1941 out of a prior large donation for education purposes made in 1936 by Hendon Chubb a graduate
of the Yale class of 1895. Since its establishment,
the Chubb fund has adhered to the goals of providing
encouragement and aid to students interested in government and American public affairs. The fellowship initially aimed to foster among Yale undergraduates an
interest in public service in local and state affairs. It grew over the years to include numerous distinguished visitors in national and international affairs as well as leaders in the world
of the arts and humanities. Since the 1940s the Chubb
Fellowship Lecture Series has inspired generations
of Yale undergraduates to undertake public service
and pursue leadership roles in the hopes of creating
a better world today and for posterity. The fellowship has hosted
four U.S. presidents, George HW. Bush, Gerald Ford,
Jimmy Carter and Harry Truman. In recent years we’ve
welcomed a wide range of national and international
leaders including environmental activist Bill McKibben Ambassador Samantha Power, physician and humanitarian Dr. Hawa Abdi, renowned actor Shah Rukh Khan, and award-winning songwriter
and musician, Paul Simon. With this quick description of the history and aims of the Chubb Fellowship, I’m delighted that we are welcoming to Yale today the distinguished
artist Faith Ringgold as our spring 2018 Chubb Fellow. (audience applauding) Joining Faith Ringgold today are members of her family and staff. Her daughter Michele Wallace is a scholar of African American film and
cultural studies (laughing) (audience applauding) and she recently retired from
City University of New York after a lovely career. Grace Mathews is Faith
Ringgold’s assistant, there she is. (audience applauding) Kyle Mathews and Martha Whitehead are part of Faith Ringgold’s
Anyone Can Fly Foundation and true core volunteers. (audience applauding) We’re delighted that you were
all able to join us today. Born and raised in depression-era
Harlem, New York City, Faith Ringgold’s career
as an artist, educator, writer and activist spans
more than half a century and as you can see 60 years. She earned a bachelor’s
degree from City College of the City University
of New York in 1955. She then taught art in New
York City’s public schools and worked on a master’s
degree at City College which she completed in 1959. In the 1960s as an art teacher in the New York City Public Schools, she began a series of paintings
called American People that portrayed the civil rights movement from a feminist perspective. The painting showed ordinary
people, both black and white, confronting social
barriers while attempting to forge relationships
in their everyday lives. She also organized and fought for works of African-American and women artists to be included in museums and galleries. She demonstrated against the exclusion of black and female artists by New York’s Whitney
Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern
Art from 1968 to 1970. In 1971 Faith Ringgold
co-founded Where We At, a black women artists group. In the 1980s she embarked on projects that employed the medium
of the story quilt rooted in African-American communal traditions of quilting and storytelling that have been critical for
connecting families stories and lives across many generations. Works such as the 1988 Tar Beach Part I from the Woman on Bridge
Series are currently in the Solomon R. Guggenheim
Museums permanent collection and they make up some of
her best known masterpieces from this period. Faith Ringgold has also produced numerous public art projects included, Flying Home Harlem Heroes and Heroines for the Metropolitan Transit Authorities, a 125th Street subway stop, for the Woman’s House, for the Rose M. Singer
Center on Rikers Island, the Crown Heights Children’s History Quill at Public School 22 in Brooklyn, New York along with many others
around the New York City as well as around the country. Since the 1990s she is also written and illustrated many
acclaimed children’s books such as Tar Beach that was
the Caldecott Honor Book and winner of the
Coretta Scott King Award. She has helped young readers explore African American history through Aunt Harriet’s
Underground Railroad In the Sky, one of my children’s favorite books, Dinner at Aunt Connie’s House, honors civil rights
activist Fannie Lou Hamer, Mary McLeod Bethune, Zora Neale Hurston and many more famous black women. If a Bus Could Talk, the
story of Miss Rosa Parks, won the NAACPs Image Award in 2000. And for adults she has published
her memoir in 1995 titled, We Flew Over the Bridge: The
Memoirs of Faith Ringgold. She’s professor emeritus at the University of California San Diego where she taught art from 1987 to 2002. She is the recipient
of more than 75 awards, including 22 honorary
Doctor of Fine Arts degrees. She has received fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, New York Foundation for
the Arts and many more for painting and sculpture. And I’m now delighted that she
can add the Chubb Fellowship to her long list of illustrious awards. I’m also pleased to say that the Hopper Windows
Commission Committee that is the Hopper the
Windows Commissioned Committee for Hopper College here on Yale’s campus and several members of
which are with us today including head of college Julia Adams, has recommended that Faith
Ringgold be the artist to design new windows for
the Hopper dining hall. (audience applauding) And again head of college
Julie Adams is here. So this is very exciting news. (audience applauding) And you are very much
the first public audience to hear this announcement. It’s been circulating sort of
privately on email this week so it’s very exciting to
hear the announcement. We’re looking forward to
developing a conversation with Faith over the coming months. So Faith, that chapter will be continued. But for today I’m delighted
to celebrate her life’s work and her many achievements
and hear her talk, Anyone Can Fly. So please join me in welcoming
Faith Ringgold to the podium. (audience applauding) – Very much. Good evening. Thank you so much for inviting
me and for you coming. This is a great honor. I’m so happy to be here. This is one of my favorite places. Back in the day when
I was going to college if you went to Yale you were hot stuff. (audience laughing) Especially in art. Okay so thank you I’m here. All right. (audience applauding) Okay, I’m going to, in 1948
I made my first work of art that I considered complete
and the finished work of art. and is that not? Am I not doing it correctly. Oh wait a minute maybe that’s the way. No nothing’s moving. What am I doing wrong? There you go back. I want to go back. Go back. Just below oh oh. There you go. Yes thank you know they taught me at the City College of New York I was told when I was a young kid that when I graduated from high school I was going to college. But I didn’t know which college. So we walked down the street, used to see these boys
rushing out of the subway at 145th Street and in
Tacoma Avenue in Harlem and going up the hill to Convent Avenue and down the street to the
City College of New York. And I said, Mom why can’t I go to that where these boys going. She said, “They’re going to City College.” And I said, well why can’t I go there? She said, “Well you can.” However I didn’t know
it was a boy’s school. (audience laughing) And so when I went when I
got to be eighteen in 1948 and went down to register at the City College of New York that’s when I found out
that I couldn’t go there. And I said what were you talking about? They said, “No, what do you want be?” And I said, be? You know women didn’t work in those days. Be? I want to do all right. They said, “Well wait no. “You can’t get a liberal arts degree here “because this is a boy’s school.” So I just refused to hear that because all my life I had
thought of doing that. However somebody at the college said, look she can do it. She can get a Bachelor
of Arts in art education and she can major in art
and minor in education and do her art and teach. And in a way that was great because my family had a
lot of teachers in it. They weren’t too cool on the art. (audience laughing) Now the art was a little, you know, iffy, but the teaching was fine. And so I went to the
City College of New York and got a Bachelor’s
degree in Art Education and then a Master of
Arts in Art Education. And I am so glad that that happened because I was able to teach children and I hadn’t planned to teach anything. I had planned to do art. But this way I got a chance to find out how wonderful
the children are. They are the best. And for those of you who teach them, I’m sure you know what I
mean, the children, fabulous. Now in 1948 I was 18 and I was a freshman at the City College and we were learning about all kinds of art done in Europe. Like still life and so on. And this was the first painting that I really thought was good, you know, because the teachers would
tear everything apart but um yeah.
(audience laughing) So this is my first oil on canvas and I went on what does that mean a different box? Well it’s not happening. What the heck?
(audience laughing) Okay nothing is happening here. I need to go on more
than 60 years making art. (audience laughing) And all I’m getting is one piece. I don’t know why it’s not moving. I’m pushing buttons. (people chattering) – [Man] I can, help you do it. – [Faith] What is that, why is that? – [Man] Just let me know to
go to the next one, okay? – [Faith] Yeah oh okay go okay here. In one of my classes Design, oh we had a fabulous education at the City College in art and I think they really did a
wonderful job on teaching us and one of the things that we learned to do very well was to create design. I mean all kinds from design
aspects from all over the world and so okay here we got an assignment to create a playing card. Acrylic on paper playing card. And most of the kids in the class when we came back and we went to show our
homework assignment, they had created a whole deck of cards. I said wait what are you doing here? This is, it’s not, you were not supposed to make a deck of cards you’re supposed to do just one. And they said we do what we want. And that was their, it
was very competitive. And of course the idea was they’re gonna make a deck of cards and I’m gonna come in with my one and you know City College was free but not if you only gonna
do one and everybody else. You’re gonna be in trouble. So I said okay that’s the way
you all want to do it huh. And I learned from that don’t ever go in with one of nothin’. Make sure when you get in there, you can fill up the whole
board with your stuff. And I did. Yeah Playing Card 1948. In the 1960s I became a mature artist with the American People
Series and Black Light. The 1960s was a time when
things changed in America and will never be the same. Much was for the better
however there seems to be continuing longing for the one step forward
two steps backward that has been a time-worn
American legacy since the 1600s. I became a mature artist. Okay let’s move on. Okay Self Portrait. I went into this whole series of painting with stop signs and circles and that was very prevalent in those days. Pop Art was what they was saying it was and oil on stretched canvas
was my way of working and I am cradling myself for
the long haul ahead of me. I was trying very hard to show my life and to tell my story because to me that is what an artist
is supposed to be doing, telling their story. (cell phone ringing) What on earth? (audience laughing) What’s going on. (audience laughing) Art is important because you can tell
what happened to people all over the world at
any time in their history from looking at their art. And I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to help to tell the
story of African-Americans in America at the time when I
was there, when I was alive. And I got that opportunity to do that by becoming an artist. This is the American People Series and which was started in
1963 and went on to 1967. This is actually an image of my brother who died very early in his life and I wanted to always remember him. He was such a sweetheart but
things were rough in those days and he couldn’t make
it, he didn’t make it. My poor brother gone before his time. I think I need to go faster but I don’t know how
to get that happening. I became an artist because
I wanted to tell my story as a Black Woman in America. We were in the height of
the civil rights movement and I wanted my art to be
a witness to the changes that were taking place. It was then that I announced
my arrival on the art scene as no longer emerging, I never
liked that word emerging, I was now a mature artist if not me who, if not now when? In 1967 I had my first solo
show at the Spectrum Gallery on 57th Street in New York City. And here I am standing
between friends under the, actually this is across something linking women together so that there would be some kind of mutuality between us and not so much hate and destruction. This is the first painting in
the American People series. I did in the summer a
lot of parties to raise, doing a lot of parties to raise money for the civil rights
causes like the NAACP. I was staying with my
daughters and my husband in what Provincetown and
it was very interesting what was going on there. The people there were
colorful and interesting, their images were unforgettable. I almost never forget a face. They often show up in my paintings. Yes I’m still looking. And things are getting
more and more interesting. For Members Only. We were trying to go to a, what are we trying to get to, a park. This is a what a church school picnic and these guys showed up to tell us, you know you’re not supposed to be here. A lot of racism, a lot of prejudice in
different neighborhoods and so on and so I got
a chance to experience all these things and to feel
the power of being an artist to record what I saw, For Members Only. Well you had to be a member. Well I couldn’t be a member to
all these things, absolutely. They wanted us to leave. We left. Have you ever had an experience like that? Well actually it never
happened to me again but I did have that first one. They told us to get the hell out of there. (audience laughing) Neighbors, a lot of racism in the schools and in the neighborhoods and all with people not wanting you to live next door or whatever. Could you make a painting of people who wouldn’t want you to live with them? Would you want to? A family of people who
want to keep it their way. These things have been
difficult through the years and I have tried to do what I can. Could have that click again? The Civil Rights Triangle. You know the president of the NAACP back in those days was not black. I don’t know whether you know that or not but that’s what these
the triangle is about and I was right in the middle of it. And in that place where
we went Martha’s Vineyard where my mother had a friend and I started these paintings because they were very
important members of NAACP but there’s a lot going on and I wanted to record
my feelings about it. Watching and Waiting. People had to you know wait their turns to see if they could
participate in what is going. Who is the man at the door? He’s standing there waiting for his chance to to be heard, to sit at the table, to participate. Who was watching and waiting? What for? Okay this was Mr. Charlie. I think the idea was is that
he was a nice guy so come on. Red, blue and white arrows
pointing downward suggested that things were not
gonna be all that great. Stop signs and all and
Mr. Charlie, Mr. Charlie, see this man’s hand on
his heart and his smile, red stop sign, red, blue and white
arrows pointing downwards. Is he sincere? I think generally he might have been but Mr. Charlie was big in 1964. Okay 63. And here is a whole pile up of guys with their hands over
one of them sad face, why are these men piled
up on top of each other? What does the position
of their hands tell us? It’s a way of keeping you down. Who’s the man on top? How will you stay there? That is an interesting question that America continues to battle with. Some people want to be on top and they will do anything to stay there and it is unfortunate that we have still so much going on that prevents people from prospering, getting together and prospering. The American dream. All women want a ring like that and you know a guy to go with it. Yeah that’s it, that’s
tough sorry. (laughing) How can you achieve it? Well we find a way don’t we? Yeah yes I think so. The American Dream, all right. I just made a you know black
white whatever Study Now. Ah that was important. A lot of young kids got
into various schools that had previously prohibited
black children going there. They would get in there and then they would forget
about doing the work and they would flunk out. Study Now. Don’t forget. This painting is a message to students. See the four caution signs? See the red arrow and yellow
red and black stop sign. Why should you Study Now? ‘Cause if you don’t you’re
gonna get thrown out and that’s not gonna be
pleasant for anybody. Three Men on a Fence trying to decide which way should they go what should they do should they do this? Could you make a picture
about what you did? Have you ever sat on the fence? Could you make a picture
about what you did? Look back on it. The Family Plan. Some parents wanted their
schools kept segregated. They had a plan to keep them segregated. For the most part their plan worked. Could you make a picture
of the kids at your school? Schools are still quite segregated and they do it through the
neighborhoods being segregated. Keep this neighborhood
segregated the schools can do it. God Bless America. This was my very first flag painting. I was trying to make a
picture that looked patriotic. Does she look patriotic? What is patriotism? All right yeah I wanted to do that. Portrait of an American Youth. I think I already showed this one. Stop the red stop sign. What does this mean? Who is this young man? He reminds me of my brother where his life was sort of set up for him. Two of these girls are my daughters, Barbara and Michelle, who
are the other children? Well they’re kids they
went to school with. Why are they hiding and
from whom are they hiding? Or are they just simply playing? I wanted to show them playing, trying to be friends
trying to avoid the racism that followed children, that follows, continues to follow children everywhere. Woman Looking in a Mirror. Okay yeah. See the watercolor which the plants with the plants outside and the moon what feeling through, peeking through the leaves. This is a beautiful night
and she is a beautiful woman. Can you paint a woman
looking in the mirror and who is she by the way? Is she you? Yeah, this was fun to do. The Artist and His Model. There were a lot of artists at that time who thought they had an idea about what kind of people I should paint. Don’t paint this, don’t paint that. I do what I want. Oh yeah and there was imagery that they thought was perfect and correct and imagery that they thought was not and I thought I could do what I want. What do you think of
this ongoing debate now. Black or just American? It was a lot of discussion about whether you should pay black people or who are the black people? Well I can decide and
I can make what I want and I did. Why is our flag bleeding? Yeah the flag is bleeding. Why is it bleeding? (sighs) It’s bleeding
because our liberties, are damaged to some extents, our freedom is in trouble. It was so difficult painting that blood and if you’ve never tried
painting blood try it. It really feels dangerous. Then it all of a sudden in 1967
somebody yelled Black Power. Oh my God everybody got very upset. Black Power? I mean Black and power,
these two don’t go together. Yeah something’s wrong. And you see here, what do you see written in the horizontal? Put your head on the right. What do you see? All right that’s the power. And the Black Power was something that somebody yelled out. Who was it? Pardon me? Stokely Carmichael. Yeah that was a very big
day when that happened. What happened here? (audience laughing) Oh I’m doin’ it. (laughing) Okay oh my God that’s funny. Oh yeah okay the Black Light Series. Okay now this is I’ve done, what? What’s going on? (people chattering) You got me. Well this is my computer so now and this is the subway on 125th Street and this is this whole
series the Black Light Series in which I wanted to
change my use of colors and then Die which was the last of the American People Series was Die. Huh? Which is now in the collection
of the Museum of Modern Art after 50 years, I did it 50 years ago, and they now have it
because I loved Picasso and his Guernica. And we used to go there, used
to take my daughter’s there and we would look at Guernica and so on and in my series of American
People I thought it would I, I wanted to do a spontaneous street riot. Because there was so
many, they would happen. Just I mean it spontaneously
a riot would break out. And you would be in the middle of it. You had to get the hell out of the way and blood would be in the street and when you got home
nobody would have seen it on television and it wouldn’t be in the newspaper the next day. They just act like it didn’t happen. Amazing. And so I thought I’m gonna do a painting showing a spontaneous street riot and it was inspired by Guernica
which I used to look at all the time because it
was a riotous painting. And I tried to, what was it, Chase Manhattan Bank David
Rockefeller Center Group, to my studio, to buy my first what? My first painting from a bank from Chase. And I showed them those
paintings that you just saw and they just said oh my God, (audience laughing) we can’t take any more we have to go. And okay so. But I knew that David Rockefeller
was gonna send him back so go ahead. So they went and when they came back, I showed them the Blacklight Series. What was that? Could you go back one? Wait, yeah, there we go. And they wanted to buy this. And my mother said, “Okay listen now look. “They’re coming back,
they’re gonna buy something. “Show him something they can buy. “It’s a think about it it’s a bank okay? “It’s a bank you gotta you
know think about that.” And so I did. And they liked it and they said they call it the American Spectrum. No I called it the American Spectrum. They wanted to call it what? They had an idea to call it, I was trying to show America with all its different shades of people. And anyway they bought it. (audience laughing) That’s the key. Now titles mean a lot in art. You know you gotta be
very aware of the fact that many people buy a
painting based on the title. Very interesting I thought. And for years I used to go to the Chase and right outside the
president’s office would be that painting hanging there. And that was nice, I liked it. By 1967 we had reached
the Black is Beautiful, Black Pride, Black Power segments of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. I wanted to create art to show the Black is Beautiful
skin tones of black people. We black people had never
been called beautiful before but it was a raging Black is Beautiful. Okay I’ll go for it. A black image in a black background like a white image in a
white background is invisible without tonal variations. So my paintings would
be dark but not black. I had to add some small amount
of white pigment to my colors to give them opacity. Then I could add the black
pigment to darken my colors. This was wonderful. I love working this way. It was magic how dark colors looked black against the white canvas. But when placed next to each other, dark dull colors were clearly visible. You could see them much better. I was entranced with the results. I created the following twelve canvases which I called Black Light:
Black Paintings of Black People And this one Big Black was the first one. Yeah that is the presence of all color. White is the absence of color. And I worked with those ideas in my color for many years and I still do. Except I stopped working in oil paint because I was allergic, you know. Yeah it’s a lot of artists
got sick from using oil paint and an acrylic paint
became very important. And so I went on and on in order to make and create clearly
defined abstract shapes. Can you make a face by using abstract shapes and flat colors? Try it. Black Light I called it. Soul Sister. I can’t think of a more liberating time in my life than the 1960s. It was then that I learned
to wear my hair natural. Oh that’s when the natural hair, no more hot combs in my hair. Black is Beautiful, Black Pride and Black Power all in one gesture. Now everybody’s got their
hair all wow. (laughing) Don’t have to worry about that anymore. What is it? – [Woman] You got five minutes. – [Faith] You got five what? Excuse me?
– Five minutes. – [Faith] Five minutes,
well let’s see what you got. (audience laughing) Mommy and Daddy let’s move on. More Black Light Mommy and Daddy 1969. keep go, who’s who’s got the thing? – [Man] Just tell me
next and I’ll move it. – [Faith] Okay, next. (people chattering) And there’s Die. – [Man] I got it here. – [Faith] Oh here can I push that? Where can I push. (man chattering) – [Man] You can push right
here it’s this button. – [Faith] Okay good. – And that will go.
– Okay, great. Black Art Poster. Oh the Black Art Poster. The Schomburg library got
that because it’s a library at home and they didn’t
own anything of mine. So I gave ’em that. And I was in there just
recently looking for it. You know it’s very difficult
to find that I gotta go back and find it. Can you make a picture to express yourself without name-calling. Okay. I don’t know red nigger, white nigger, oh, there was a lot of niggers
yelling in those days and I wanted to say it’s not appropriate. Unless you are a nigger don’t say nigger. Okay you’re one, okay,
not one don’t do it. The American Spectrum. Okay this is the one
that the Chase bought. Flag for the Moon: Die Nigger. I’m not sure who owns that now. Somebody does. You remember? (woman chattering faintly) what? Oh it is okay. (people chattering) Uh, oh. (laughing) Silver Stan yeah. All right here we are. US America Black. I just wanted to do party time, I wanted people dancing. The 1970s. In the 1970s I discovered
my roots in African art and began to paint and create art specific to my identity as a black woman. I made dolls and and masks inspired by my painting. I began to write Oh no, I did this for the Woman’s House. I got Singer Center for the Woman’s House. Yeah oil on canvas. Well the men thought, they
didn’t like it very much when they moved in and the women moved to
the the Woman’s House and they painted over
it in White House paint. That was a problem. Yeah that wasn’t nice. They said they got tired of listening, looking at those bitches. Okay. (crowd muttering) Yeah so but, I called the head of the prison center and he had raised $25,000 and had that painting restored. And now you would never know that it had been painted
over with White House paint and it is now going to
be in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum not going back to the prison. – No.
– No. – [Faith] No, yeah that was hard. Okay let’s see what’s going on. Oh my God I have done
so many different kinds of all kinds of painting
and these are the Tankas that I discovered. And these are my dolls which I do actually discovered
making dolls in Africa. And here is the mosaics. (audience laughing) Harlem Heroes then hell what? – You should go back.
– Go back where? Oh go back where. Okay.
– Let’s go back to. – [Faith] Okay here? – Next.
– Yes. Masks and dolls are really
fun and I loved making them. I like to work in different media. We Flew Over the Bridge Memoir. Oh I wrote my memoir in
1980 had it published and it was very difficult
getting that to happen. And then the masks, Freedom
of Speech commissioned by the Constitution Center to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights and it is in the collection of the museum. Oh the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Here’s the subway in Harlem. Yeah so I’ve had a lot of
opportunities to do many things and the idea is when you
get an opportunity do it and don’t turn down any opportunities. That’s one thing that’s
very important to learn as you’re in college. Don’t decide that you shouldn’t do it. Yeah this is 125th Street
and what Lenox Avenue. Yeah. These series of People Portraits. The 52 mosaics was done for
the Civic Center in California. That was fun. 52 images. Huh? Yeah I wanted to create
imagery of people walking in the subway all
different kinds of people, dancing, performing,
playing music, whatever, playing different sports. Yeah. And I won that Commission,
Mosaics Commission in California. So if you’re ever in L.A. go see it. 52 images. Yeah making mosaics is really fun. I painted images and mother did the, oh this is Echoes of
Harlem, my first quilt. I started writing on my second one, Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima? See the story I wrote. And I wrote that story because I had written my autobiography and couldn’t get it published. And I said I know what I’ll do. I’ll write on my art and
when they see the art they’ll read the story, that I can do. I mean I will not allow somebody
to decide what my story is. I will write it. Sony’s Quilt and on and on. Woman on the Bridge. This is at Crystal Bridges right now, Museum of American Art,
Bentonville, Arkansas. Here I am with – Oprah.
– Oprah. – and Maya.
– And Maya. Oprah commissioned this
painting for me to do. Maya that was really nice of her but she doesn’t believe in having anybody see the work. Fortunately for me. (audience laughing) But some people buy a work of art and they want to hide it
from the world after you know and that’s not fair. But it’s at Crystal Bridges now. The museum. And there I am in front
of it and that’s good. Yeah this will work,
Won’t on a Bridge #2 of 5 Double Dutch on the
George Washington Bridge. Sold by the Elle Flumenhaft Gallery. And here is Dancing at the Louvre. The whole French collection. I went to France on several occasions and wanted to do a tribute to the artists that I learned about. The American Collection,
The French Collection. so many artists that became important in my life who I learned about at school. Denzel Washington, The
Invisible Princess cover. And my books, my children’s books, very important. And here are a collection of them. Yeah the first offer I
got was to do Tar Beach and a lot of people said you know, artists don’t make children’s books and at City College they
never taught us illustration. But when I got an offer to
create a book with Tar Beach, I was taught don’t turn down
any opportunities and I didn’t and it was my first book
and now I’ve done 19 and I’m still going, coming up with more. Yeah and here I am with my husband he’s in a nursing home now so, keeps me a little confused. If any of you have anybody
in a nursing home you know, that’s kind of difficult but without him I
wouldn’t be standing here because I wouldn’t have been
able to quit my job teaching. Huh no. I would have had to continue ♪ Without a doubt ♪ ♪ Coming to Jones Road ♪ Here’s my great-great-grandmother
Susie Shannon. She lived to be 110. – Wow!
– Isn’t that something? That is so amazing. She always knew her stuff. Coming to Jones Road Part I. When we moved to New Jersey so that I could open a bigger studio because as an artist you
know you outgrow a studio, you fill it up and then
you need another one bigger and so then I moved to my
neighbors thought I was trying to open up a rooming house or something. I couldn’t understand
why they thought that but didn’t matter you know they were gonna try to
keep me from moving in. But I got in anyway. So I did a tribute to
them Coming to Jones Road. We Jus Keep a Comin’. (audience laughing)
(audience applauding) Yeah. Yeah. We Jus Keep a Comin’. Sorry. Under a Blood Red Sky commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Huh? Yep that’s right. And there’s Birdie Dedicated to you. I had to dedicate it to
him because without him, we couldn’t have moved to Jones Road, ’cause I couldn’t afford that. Yeah. We’re Here Aunt Emmy Got Us Now Coming to Jones Road, acrylic on canvas. A symbol of freedom. To a couple trying to get married. They had to secrete
themselves in the woods in order to get married in
those days during slavery. Escape to Freedom: Harriet Tubman. I went to give tribute
to some of these women who were so heroic during those days. Martin Luther King. Wonderful framed in a Tanka,
Mother made this Tanka for me and I didn’t have a painting ready for it. And she said, “Oh that doesn’t matter. “It doesn’t need a painting.” You could just hang the Tanka
by itself, she was too much. Oh Ma. She’s too much. Mama Can Sing, Papa Can Blow. All artists did jazz pictures of some kind and I hadn’t done any
until 2000 something. I hadn’t made a jazz picture. Yeah something like that. Right yeah. And it’s really very popular for artists to create jazz pictures. Somebody Stole My Broken Heart. and now I’m making lots of quilts. And A Letter From Martin Luther King While confined here in
Birmingham City Jail. He was told you know why are
you coming here causing trouble that’s why you’re in jail. So he did that series of letters and I got asked to illustrate them and I did. That was a great fun. And it turned out to
be I think eight books by a print a work show. The Right to Vote. There are counties without a single Negro registered to vote. You look back on these times. Oh wow, Police Brutality Viewed
Thru Stained Glass Windows. Who worships here? Who is their God? Martin Luther King. This is the subjects that
he sent to this minister who said why are you here causing trouble. That’s why you’re in jail. And he said I’m here and he
expressed some of the things that had happened in America
that made him get arrested. Police Brutality Viewed
Thru Stained Glass Windows. For more than two centuries
are foreparents labored in this country without wages. And here is the Bus Boycott. Now this one here probably, it’s very, it’s the Declaration of Independence ’cause it was created interesting at a time when there was still slavery in America. And so I did this series of paintings. I have borne 13 children and seen most all sold off to slavery and when I cried out
with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me. And ain’t I a woman? ‘Cause when they said
all men are created equal I added and women? Ain’t I a Woman? Speech presented by Sojourner
Truth in 1851 in Akron, Ohio. This was so fun to do. and there is a painting. Okay. Yeah this was a very wonderful experience doing the Absolute Tyranny. Understanding this what could I say. Also Absolute Tyranny. What was going on? A lot with the people
hanging from the trees. Taxes On Us Without Our Consent. Taxes On Us. Oh my goodness. We Have Appealed to Their
Native Justice and Magnanimity. Frederick Douglass. I was brought up to understand that in America my freedom was
not more than a promise that would be a struggle and could be in many instances denied. These are all things
I really wanted to do. Yes we can and we did. Yeah. It’s too bad we couldn’t have
our first woman president maybe we wouldn’t have so many
problems like we have today. (audience applauding) But what can I say we didn’t do it. Somebody didn’t do it I did. I went and voted for her. No, I did, I’m sorry. I voted for her, and I voted
for him, I voted for her. Unfortunately. Yes indeed. Now this is a sculptor who
did this at some museum and asked different people
to paint the sculpture and I painted and gave
’em to him, of Obama. I’m wondering you know
just has he ever seen this? (audience laughing) Well you don’t know, I
don’t know what he did. Flag Stories. Now the Flag Stories I did
because I woke up one morning and they were planes
flying into these buildings and I thought it was some
kind of advertisement but it wasn’t. It was 9/11. On Tuesday morning we
faced the devil in the sky and told him that freedom will never die. And I just I couldn’t believe I was seeing what I was seeing and I
just kept doing these flags ’cause I was just overwhelmed. Oh my goodness. I couldn’t believe it. My darling we are facing
the devil in the sky. A hateful man with a what a terrible plan that all of us shall die. Oh my this was such a frightening morning. On Tuesday morning you called
me from the burning sky, you’re searing words of
pain will forever remain encrusted in my heart. My darling we are facing
the devil in the sky, a hateful man with a hellish plan for all of us to die. There is a mountain in every valley but is there a safe haven in the sky? If so we will try. If not my darling I love you goodbye. That was a horrible morning when these people were dying when these planes and oh my God it was too much. A lot. Tuesday morning 9/11. Hope that never happens again. I just kept making flags. I didn’t know what else to do. Well, well do tell, 9/11. Suicide bombers in heaven? We think not, heaven’s
not where they’re at. There’s been a huge mistake
but for heaven’s sake what’s a little sin? We’ll get you in and we can
double date ’em in hell. Yeah the idea of that whole
thing was just cuckoo. Freedom Flag. So you’re the 19 men
we’ve been waiting for? Well I’m the devil and here’s
what hell has in store, 90 bitches on a bed of coals and a million hags with tortured souls. Serial killers, assassins,
rapists, murderers and more with an eternity of time
for you to enjoy and enjoy. And that’s what happened on 9/11 when 19 suicide bombers went to hell. – Backwards.
– Oh, I’m sorry. (woman chattering) Yeah this was oh this was such a day. This is too much. They just couldn’t stop. I couldn’t believe it and then
after I began to believe it, I couldn’t stop doing it and I made this series for the ACLU of posters channel 13 and okay. (audience laughing) (audience applauding) We can have some questions now. – All right
– Good. Okay. – [Woman] Question further down. – [Woman] Hi, thank you so much. That was just wonderful. I spoke to you earlier. I’ve been an art educator for years and every child who ever
sees your work celebrates it and loves it and the
messages are so fantastic. – Thank you. – [Woman] I just wondered
if there was ever a subject that you would like to cover that you’ve never painted or quilted? – I can’t think of one at
this point because I’m 87 (audience laughing) so there used to be some but not anymore. No I got a chance and I’ve done
it everything I want to do. I’m working on my game,
Quiltuduko and if you know Sudoku, how many people know Sudoku? Well Quiltuduko is a lot like it. You just go on iTunes and what’s the other Google Play and type in Quiltuduko Q-U-I-L-T-U-D-U-K-O and you can play my game. (audience laughing) It’s so fun because with
Sudoku when you get finished, the only thing you’ve got are 81 numbers and you throw that paper out. But with Quiltuduko you’ve
got a poster you can put on the wall okay. It’s gonna be fun. – [Woman] What’s your
favorite thing about art? – I like the power of creativity that I am able to create something
out of my own imagination that has never been done before by me. That’s what I like about it. It gives you a feeling of
power that is very memorable. I love creating art. And I love my art. Yeah I do. I love it. I don’t try to please
other people with my art. I’m happy when they are pleased but as an artist I think it’s important that you love what you’re doing. You love it because you have
no idea what other people want. Okay. – [Woman] Thank you for the pleasure. An afternoon of beautiful, beautiful work. – Thank you. – [Woman] Well I want to
ask a very serious question at this time.
– Okay. – [Woman] Because as a nation
we are in deep, deep trouble and I wonder if you think
that replacing the arts in the curriculum will help
reduce school shootings. – Re-what? Replacing the art in the curriculum? With? – [Woman] Putting art back. – Oh, putting the art back
into, oh that’s interesting. I’m wondering if children
are losing their sensibility. Their what? Do you think that’s the reason why they’re shooting each other? – [Woman] And their love for themselves. – And love, yes, for humanity, for the world, for creativity, for yeah, I don’t know, is the art out of the schools
completely at this point? – It’s coming out.
– It’s coming out. It’s going down though, right?
– Yes. – Unfortunately, you know
children have such an ability to create art when they’re little. And to be denied that
opportunity is sinful. So that if they don’t get it in school as parents you have to make
sure they get it at home because it’s in them. I know they’re not
getting the music either, huh they’re not getting the music. – They are.
– They are getting the music? – [Woman] Now as the curriculum standing. – Okay, okay. – [Woman] Part of mandate. – Okay, well what can I say that’s unfortunate, if they are being denied
the ability to be creative and to tell their story. – [Woman] I wasn’t going to speak but I’m very compelled right now. I’m an art teacher and I’m a survivor of the
Sandy Hook School Shooting and five years ago I got
to meet Faith Ringgold and she validated so much
of what I had experienced. And I came to her because it was Tar Beach that allowed my students
to fly above the pain and the horror and I can’t say enough about how you have influenced, to this day you are
influencing children’s idea of what it is to create
and to be and to fly and I can’t thank you enough for that. I’m humbled.
– Well thank you. (audience applauding) Yes. Yes, anyone can fly all,
you got to do is try. That’s right. Thank you very much for telling me that. – [Man] Yeah so I guess as someone who now for a very long time has
not only been a part of but shaped conversations on
race and gender and belonging, I think a couple of people
have commented on the fact that in, certainly in America, but I think the the world in general it has I mean you know
they’ve never had its way to begin with but is
certainly more wayward than it’s been in a while. And I’m wondering what you have to share about being in the center
of that conversation for a world which doesn’t want
to be having it right now. – Well you just have to be forceful and find ways that are unique to you to bring love and truth into the world and
especially to the children. They have a right to embrace the world. As children they need to
have the world open to them to have opportunity to
learn and without it, oh my God that is so awful. I can’t imagine how it must be to not be able to see the world as so many of us have taken for granted. Because as you get older, you’re gonna become more and more aware of what you have missed. Let’s hope it doesn’t continue. But we have to do something about it and I would think that one
thing we could do is get rid of what’s going on at the White House. (audience applauding) Yeah I mean the children can’t do that. Somebody’s got to do it. And you know how unfortunate, I mean I just think about how I would feel if as a child I had had somebody in the White House like that. It must be horrible just think about it. So we can change it
though if we get together, we can do it. I think so. Do you agree? – [Audience] Yes. (audience applauding) – All right, anybody else? Yes. – [Woman] Can I impose on you. I would like for you to
autograph a book of yours. (people chattering) – Yeah. – So I would liked to once more thank the
wonderful Faith Ringgold. (audience applauding) – Thank you. – People love you. – Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you. – And there’s a lovely reception that is gonna be outside
in the U-AG lobby. Please feel free to join us. It is open to all of you. You’ve been a wonderful audience and this is our way of thanking you. So, thank you. – Thank you. – Thank you.
– You’re welcome.

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