Sheldon Statewide: Faith Ringgold
Learn more about a work from the 2022-2023 Sheldon Statewide exhibition, “On The Road Again.” This print is titled "Coming to Jones Road: Under a Blood Red Sky #8" and was made by Faith Ringgold in 2006. Sheldon Statewide is an annual program through which artworks from the museum’s collection travel to venues throughout Nebraska. Since its inception in 1987, the program has taken exhibitions to 25 communities, reaching more than 365,000 people. “On The Road Again” will be presented in Chadron, North Platte, McCook, Grand Island, York, Beatrice, Fremont, and Falls City.
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[00:00:08.730]One of the most relevant
[00:00:09.810]and impactful artists of her generation,
[00:00:12.420]Faith Ringgold has created works of art across many media,
[00:00:15.870]from large scale paintings to narrative quilts.
[00:00:19.050]Born in Harlem in 1930,
[00:00:20.755]Ringgold attended the City College of New York in the 1950s,
[00:00:24.900]earning BA and MA degrees in visual arts.
[00:00:28.590]In the 1960s, many of her works were political paintings,
[00:00:31.500]such as the American People series.
[00:00:34.440]International travel inspired her to create soft sculptures
[00:00:37.410]and masks in the 1970s.
[00:00:39.720]And this led to her later work with quilts.
[00:00:42.780]Ringgold made her first quilt
[00:00:44.400]in collaboration with her mother in 1980.
[00:00:47.640]She integrated words in later quilts
[00:00:49.740]as a form of publication.
[00:00:51.810]Her unique approach to writing, painting, and sewing
[00:00:54.270]have established her as a creative innovator.
[00:00:57.870]This print, "Under a Blood Red Sky #8",
[00:01:01.140]is part of the Coming to Jones Road series,
[00:01:03.930]which originated as a collection of quilts.
[00:01:06.960]The original quilt with the title
[00:01:08.587]"Under the Blood Red Sky" features different writing
[00:01:11.160]around the edges and a larger group of people in the center
[00:01:14.430]but it has that same dramatic red sky.
[00:01:17.940]These quilts and the prints inspired by them
[00:01:20.310]tell the story of Ringgold's enslaved ancestors
[00:01:22.740]liberating themselves from bondage.
[00:01:25.200]In addition to her heritage, Ringgold was also inspired
[00:01:28.380]by her own contemporary experience moving to Jones Road
[00:01:31.440]in Englewood, New Jersey.
[00:01:33.750]She dreamed of creating a studio and garden there,
[00:01:36.240]but was met with hostility from the established residents.
[00:01:40.350]On the topic, Ringgold said,
[00:01:42.150]this was an extremely traumatic experience for me,
[00:01:45.060]but art is a healer and the sheer beauty
[00:01:47.010]of living in a garden amidst the trees, plants,
[00:01:49.620]and flowers has inspired me to look away from my neighbors'
[00:01:53.010]unfounded animosity toward me and focus my attention
[00:01:56.520]on the stalwart tradition of Black people
[00:01:58.530]who have come to New Jersey centuries before me.
[00:02:02.340]By bringing in the voices of her relatives,
[00:02:04.800]Ringgold was able to respond to her own experience
[00:02:07.470]by illustrating their journeys in the past.
[00:02:10.205]In Sheldon's print,
[00:02:12.007]"Coming to Jones Road Under a Blood Red Sky #8",
[00:02:15.480]which is a work on paper,
[00:02:17.250]two silhouette figures passed through trees
[00:02:19.770]towards a white house, which shines like a beacon
[00:02:21.990]at the end of a bright yellow road.
[00:02:24.570]As the title indicates, they walk under a red sky
[00:02:27.450]with a small white moon illuminating their path.
[00:02:31.020]Bordering the central composition,
[00:02:32.790]Ringgold includes familial narratives,
[00:02:35.070]writing how Aunt Emmy could be in two places
[00:02:38.010]at the same time, and Uncle Tate could vanish in a flash
[00:02:41.250]and turn up in the same way.
[00:02:43.440]She directly references their journey in the next line.
[00:02:46.710]One day, they just up and walk to freedom
[00:02:48.870]and nobody see 'em.
[00:02:50.365]Aunt Emmy was inspired by Ringgold's great-grandmother
[00:02:54.240]Betsy Bingham, of whom she has an old sepia photograph,
[00:02:57.990]and who was the starting point for the series narrative.
[00:03:01.320]The little white house on Jones Road seen in this print
[00:03:04.680]is Aunt Emmy's home,
[00:03:06.300]and the final destination on the journey to freedom.
[00:03:09.720]How does the story behind this work impact your perception?
[00:03:13.260]How do you think this print contributes
[00:03:14.940]to the theme of this exhibition?
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