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Faith Ringgold Self-Portrait


National Portrait Gallery | Slow Looking encourages visitors to slow down and look at a single artwork in the Portrait Gallery's collection. Writing, sketching, music, movement and other activities may be added to enhance the experience.

Drawing primarily from the National Portrait Gallery’s vast collection of self-portraits, this exhibition will explore how American artists have chosen to portray themselves since the beginning of the last century.

As people are confronted each day with “selfies” via social media and as they continue to examine the fluidity of contemporary identity, this is an opportune time to reassess the significance of self-portraiture in relation to the country’s history and culture.

The exhibition will feature more than 75 works by artists such as Josef Albers, Patricia Cronin, Imogen Cunningham, Elaine de Kooning, Edward Hopper, Joan Jonas, Jacob Lawrence, Alice Neel, Louise Nevelson, Diego Rivera, Lucas Samaras, Fritz Scholder, Roger Shimomura, Shahzia Sikander and Martin Wong. “Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today” is curated by Brandon Brame Fortune, chief curator, National Portrait Gallery. This exhibition concludes the Portrait Gallery’s 50th anniversary celebrations, and an expanded, illustrated companion book will be published in spring 2019.

This month, engage in slow looking at Faith Ringgold's Self Portrait in Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today.


Photo Source: National Portrait Gallery | Smithsonian

Continuing from the exhibition's website: Faith Ringgold based her 1998 artist's book, "Seven Passages to a Flight" on autobiographical memories drawn from her own Harlem childhood. Searching for a way to express the experiences of African American women, she started working in textiles in the 1970s.

Her innovative story quilts draw inspiration from Tibetan "tankas," African piece work, and black American quilting traditions. Long an activist for racial and gender equality, Ringgold used flight here as a metaphor for overcoming challenges that she had encountered.

The bridge, which she could see from her tar-covered Harlem rooftop, symbolizes opportunity. "Anyone can fly," she writes in her children's book, "Tar Beach". "All you have to do is have somewhere to go that you can't get to any other way." The imagery of flying, Ringgold has explained, "is about achieving a seemingly impossible goal with no more guarantee of success than an avowed commitment to do it."

Through the artist's self-portraits (the Photographer, Sculptor, Abstract Expressionist, Visual Artist, Storyteller, Muralist, Quilter and other creatives), we have an opportunity to see each through their creative mediums.

I belong to a small women's group - there are four of us. The key chains (pictured below) represent something special in each of us. Our mantra is: "You belong. You are an invaluable part of life’s puzzle. Without you, our puzzle does not exist." In the coming months, I will be working on a Puzzle Portrait of each of us.


Have you created your self-portrait?

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