The Drawers - Faith Ringgold   Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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Faith Ringgold

Women of color have had to address an expanded platform in terms of their gender because of the long history of abuse, discrimination and superficial categorizations of their race. There could also be a valid argument that where white women have had to challenge the hierarchical inconsistencies between male and female in order to gain a secure footing in Fine Arts, women of color have had the added challenge of overcoming stereotypical translations of gender that have been perpetuated concerning their particular racial backdrop. All women who have managed to stand at the forefront of the art world are to be applauded but the women of colour who have managed to do the same, deserve a standing ovation. Not only have they had to overcome gender and race prejudice but they have also been operative in bringing people of colour into view. Fine Arts has always been an opportunity to pay tribute to ideas and record history, which can be easily discerned through a quick scan of western art and civilization. But the story of people of color has not been put forward with the same insistency. Faith Ringgold is visually speaking of her people and is filling the spaces denied her people in the books of yore with new and vibrant pages.

With a philanthropic and compassionate personal history of charitable and social actions, she has gained the admiration and respect of those who came in contact with either her or her proxy - her art. She has used both the written word as well as the visual realms to put forward the particular advantages of her African Americanism. Ringgold's sure hand provides a quick graphic read, similar to the clear pop imagery of Warhol, yet it is seated in a different premise. Rather than accelerating a case for the celebration of culture as we live it in the world of popular commodities, Ringgold tells of the cultural specificity of people of color.

The dreadlocks on the woman in “Mama Can Sing” spring from her head like a fountain of glory. She is as black and glamorous as the nightlife of Harlem. Ringgold, herself holds the stature of a queen and, dressed in African styling with her own magnificent head of dreadlocks, she poses a commanding figure. Her regal dignity carries through with soulful energy into her art work. She has become a respected master (gender non-specific), not only as a female artist but also ringing loud and clear with her clarion cry for black women.










Julie Oakes Copyright © 2008 Headbones Gallery