This uplifting, Emmy-winning PBS film tells the modern-day “Cinderalla” story of the quilt-makers of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Artists born into extreme poverty, they live to see their quilts hailed by a The New York Times art critic as “some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced."
Harlem-born artist Faith Ringgold is famous for her “story quilts” that explore themes of race and gender, particularly in the art history world. One work about Matisse finds the artist commenting on his use of black models and the link to male desire. Many of the narratives center on a fictional heroine named Willa Marie Simone who goes to Paris to become an artist. The Picnic at Giverny (1991) reverses Willa’s submissive role and shows the figure boldly painting in Monet’s Giverny garden, while a nude Picasso poses along the sidelines.
Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima? Faith Ringgold. 1983.
“Many people will already have seen Ms. Ringgold’s work, a hybrid of European art and the powerful visual poetry of African traditions… “Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima,” while visually beautiful, is filled with moments of wry or bitter comedy, for it deals essentially with racist assumptions about African-Americans in our society. This is a recurring theme in the work of the artist, who is African-American, along with references to women’s issues and concerns…anger and disillusionment can be seen in Ms. Ringgold’s works, but also hope, happiness, love and pride in her ancestry.” – Master of Story Quilts and Much More, Benjamin Genocchio, 2009
Faith Ringgold (born October 8, 1930, in Harlem, New York City) is an African-American artist, best known for her painted story quilts. During the 1960s, Ringgold painted flat, figural compositions that
focused on the racial conflicts; depicting everything from riots to
cocktail parties,which resulted in her “American People” series, showing the female view of the Civil Rights Movement.The 1970s mark her move into the sculptural figures that depicted
fictional slave stories as well as contemporary ones. Ringgold began
quilted artworks in 1980; her first quilt being “Echoes of Harlem."She quilted her stories in order to be heard, since at the time no one would publish her autobiography."Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima?” (1983) is a quilt showing the story of Aunt Jemima as a matriarch restaurateur.Ringgold modeled her “story quilts” on the Buddhist Thangkas, lovely pictures painted on fabric and quilted or brocaded,
which could then be easily rolled up and transported. She has
influenced numerous modern artists, including Linda Freeman, and known
some of the greatest African-American artists personally, including Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, and Betye Saar.