Ringling College Celebrates Two Titans of American Art

Arts & Culture

BY ANDREW FABIAN SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY JAN 22, 2021

As racial justice initiatives continue to permeate the world of visual and performance art, Ringling College continues to find ways to celebrate the voices of artists from diverse backgrounds. Last year’s “Spectrum” exhibition showcased an all-star cast of African American greats from Bearden to Basquiat. This year, Ringling College’s Chief Curator, Tim Jaeger, wanted to take the diversity initiative further with a slate of exhibitions that feature more artists of color and with “Storytellers: Ringgold + Robinson,” gender too.

Featuring a collection of works from Faith Ringgold and Aminah Robinson, “Storytellers” helps to illustrate the vitality and cultural importance of these two titans of African American art. “With the ongoing conversation about trying to be actively anti-racist rather than just passively non-racist, I felt I had a responsibility to keep pushing for diversity in our gallery programming,” says Jaeger. In Ringgold and Robinson, on loan from ACA Gallery in New York City, Jaeger saw an opportunity to celebrate artists that practiced their craft when their success was all the more difficult to come by.

Ringgold grew up in Harlem amidst the explosion of creativity ushered in by the Harlem Renaissance. Her quilt work is a case study in how an artist can take an older, folk form and reimagine it for the future. For Ringgold, quilts were an opportunity to take the tradition of creating everyday-use heirlooms and tell a story. One of her signature works, “Tar Beach #2,” uses a combination of fabric and paint to render a scene that blends some autobiographical themes from her life with a children’s book character she created. In it, a family enjoys an evening on a rooftop in Brooklyn, a common occurrence for Ringgold during her childhood during the hot summer months in the city. “Without a doubt, Tar Beach is one of her signature pieces,” says Jaeger, “it’s just so vibrant and relevant, and we’re thrilled to share that one with Sarasota.”

Like Ringgold, Robinson also found inventive ways to take mundane or commonplace objects and turn them into celebrations of Black culture and history. Her “Unwritten Love Letters” series saw her unfold envelopes, dye them and illustrate some of her personal heroes along with words of praise and affirmation in honor of their achievements. “Rosa Parks” features a portrait of Parks and in a small flap on the left side of the envelope explicitly marks her contribution to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s with, “Known as ‘The Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.’” Like Ringgold, Robinson also dabbled in textile art, like her large watercolor and fabric piece titled “People of the Book: Jericho Girl,” which features an assortment of ties wrapped around a human figure like a swaddled baby.

“They’re both just incredible artists for sure, but they’re also incredible people and role models,” says Jaeger. “Independent, powerful, creative female pillars of the art world that overcame a lot of injustice to get to where they were.”

The exhibition runs through February 12th. To schedule an in-person viewing, email galleries@ringling.edu.

Ringling College of Art and Design, 1188 Dr. Martin Luther King Way, Sarasota

Click here for more information.

« View The Friday Jan 22, 2021 SRQ Daily Edition
« Back To SRQ Daily Archive

Read More

Sam Gilliam: Selections Is Now Open At Ringling Gallery

Sam Gilliam: Selections Is Now Open At Ringling Gallery

Feb 26, 2021

Max Osiris and the Crypto Art Rabbit Hole

Max Osiris and the Crypto Art Rabbit Hole

Andrew Fabian | Feb 26, 2021

Embracing Our Differences Displays Six Works of Art from Its 2021 Exhibit at Ed Smith Stadium During Orioles’ Spring Training

Embracing Our Differences Displays Six Works of Art from Its 2021 Exhibit at Ed Smith Stadium During Orioles’ Spring Training

Feb 26, 2021

Embracing Our Differences Announces 2021 Outdoor Art Exhibit and Top Winners

Embracing Our Differences Announces 2021 Outdoor Art Exhibit and Top Winners

Feb 23, 2021