Lifestyle & Culture

Artist Faith Ringgold Tells Stories Through Painted Quilts

April 18, 2017

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THE 35th ANNUAL SMITHSONIAN Craft Show comes to the National Building Museum April 26-30. The country’s uber-prestigious juried show of American crafts features 120 artists who will display and sell their one-of-a-kind designs in ceramics, glass, mixed media, jewelry, wood, metal and decorative fiber. The three-day event kicks off Wednesday, April 26 (6 to 9:30pm) with an awards ceremony followed by a preview party (tickets, $200) to chat up the artists, get first dibs on shopping and enjoy a buffet dinner. Visitors can get another jump on the crowds during Friends Night Out, Thursday, April 27, 5 to 8pm; the $25 ticket price includes show entry, a specialty cocktail and music.

A must-see is a special exhibit of nine narrative quilts by Faith Ringgold, this year’s winner of the Visionary Artist Award at the craft show. Since the early 1960s, Faith Ringgold has been known for her story quilts, boldly colorful geometric compositions that show influence from dhakas—richly brocaded Tibetan paintings—and African masks.

Ringgold’s work, which focuses on civil rights, gender equality and African American life and culture, can be seen in major museums throughout the U.S. This marks the first time that the nine quilts will be shown together in Washington. The exhibit features “Tar Beach #2”, which depicts Ringgold’s recollections of growing up in Harlem during the summer. The quilts represent Ringgold’s major themes: “Coming to Jones Road,” which depicts the path of the famous Underground Railroad to freedom; “Jazz Stories,” which portrays the famous musicians Ringgold listened to while growing up in Harlem; and “Declaration of Freedom and Independence,” which highlights the importance of social justice and freedom for all.

The National Building Museum is located at 401 F Street NW, Washington, D.C. For more info about tickets, go to Smithsonian Associates.

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