Since the early 1960s, Faith Ringgold has been known for her story quilts, politically charged paintings and prints, and illustrated children’s books. She has eloquently articulated a critical perspective on American identity through the lenses of the feminist and civil rights movements. Her boldly colorful geometric compositions point to influences from early American and European Modernism, dhakas — richly brocaded Tibetan paintings — and African masks. Her choice of the quilt as her primary medium in later years reflects a fundamental connection to practicality and her ancestors’ feminine crafts.
For the High Line, Ringgold has revisited her colorful and paradigmatic story quilt Groovin High (1986), one of the many story quilts Ringgold created that inspired a revival of the medium in the late 1970s. Depicting a crowded dance hall bordered by quilted hand-dyed fabrics, Groovin High is evocative of Ringgold’s memories of Sunday afternoon dances at the Savoy and her connection to the African American communities of her native Harlem. Her style reflects formal treatments of shape, color, and perspective reminiscent of many painters whose styles defined the Harlem Renaissance, an immensely productive and creative cultural movement of the 1920s that erupted out of the African American community living in the eponymous New York neighborhood.
Photos by Timothy Schenck.