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Painter, quilter, and storyteller Faith Ringgold will visit Lafayette for a reading, conversation hour, and book signing on Thursday, March 22, as part of Women’s History Month.

Ringgold will give a children’s reading at 10 p.m. in Skillman Library, followed by an open conversation hour at 11 a.m. in the David A. Portlock Black Cultural Center. She will sign copies of her books at noon in the Lafayette College Store.

Ringgold was born in Harlem in 1930. She began her artistic career more than 35 years ago as a painter, attending City College in New York to study art. She received a B.S. in 1955 and a master’s in fine arts in 1959.

“I was the baby of my family, the youngest of three children,” Ringgold recalls. “My childhood was the most wonderful period of my life, until now. Because I was sick with asthma when I was growing up, I was forced to spend a lot of time at home. This was not a hardship, however. Instead, it gave me time alone with my mother, who was a fashion designer at the time. She taught me how to sew (just like her grandmother had taught her) and how to be creative with art and fabrics. My mother also took me to museums and to see great performers. She put me in touch with the best of everything.”

Today, Ringgold is best known for her painted story quilts — art that combines painting, quilted fabric and storytelling. She began making quilts as a tribute to her mother following her death in 1981. Ringgold has exhibited in major museums in the U.S., Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. She is in the permanent collection of many museums, including the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The Museum of Modern Art.

Ringgold’s first book, Tar Beach, was a Caldecott Honor Book and winner of the Coretta Scott King Award for illustration, among numerous other honors. She has written and illustrated five children’s books. Besides Tar Beach, her books include If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks, Cassie’s Colorful Day, Counting to Tar Beach, Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky, Dinner at Aunt Connie’s House, The Invisible Princess, Talking to Faith Ringgold, My Dream of Martin Luther King, and Bonjour, Lonnie. She has received more than 75 awards, fellowships, citations, and honors, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Fellowship for painting, two National Endowment for the Arts Awards, and eleven honorary doctorates, one of which is from her alma mater.

In 1972, Ringgold become one of the founders of the Women Students and Artists for Black Liberation, an organization whose principal goal is to ensure that exhibitions of black artists give equal space to paintings by men and women. In line with her interest in sexual parity, she has donated a large mural depicting the roles of women in American society to the Women’s House of Detention in Manhattan.

Ringgold is a professor of visual arts at the University of California, San Diego. She also has art studios in New York. Ringgold is married to Burdette Ringgold and has two daughters and three granddaughters.

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