Dedication to Faith Ringgold

I met master artist/author/educator/activist Faith Ringgold in 2005. She became a major influence in my life and I have attended numerous “Anyone Can Fly Foundation Garden Parties”.  In 2009, the foundation granted me the wonderful opportunity to study printmaking at the Lafayette College’s EPI (Experimental Printmaking Institute) with Curlee Raven Holton and Jase Clark.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Honoring Master Artist Faith Ringgold’s 80th Birthday
by Robin J. Miller

This has been a whirlwind week for Master artist Faith Ringgold.  I have been fortunate enough to attend two very exciting birthday celebrations. Ms. Ringgold, known lovingly to many as “Faith”, has been creating amazing works of art for over 5 decades. On Wednesday, November 3, 2010 the Broadway Housing Communities celebrated and launched the upcoming Sugar Hill Development and the Faith Ringgold Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling.  This event, which took place in Shepard’s Hall (City College), was well attended. Jim Papoulis, New York City Composer and Conductor, led a group of young people singing a newly composed song dedicated to Ms. Ringgold.  Former NYC Mayor David Dinkins spoke a few words of praise, while guests enjoyed cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and birthday cake.

Saturday, November 6, 2010, was a night Faith will not soon forget and neither will I. The Neuberger Museum on the SUNY Purchase Campus threw a GALA event in honor of Faith’s “80 years of Life, Love and Art”. Everyone attending had the honor of viewing “American People Black Light – Faith Ringgold’s Paintings of the 1960s”. What an incredible, controversial and thought-provoking body of work! With Daytime Emmy Award-winner and bestselling author, Montel Williams, as the Emcee, the evening went off without a hitch. The divine cuisine moved across the floor and was artistically placed on tables in synchronized fashion. Faith was a most gracious recipient of the several accolades bestowed upon her.

However, I would like to take this opportunity on the BAIA blog to honor her myself.  Faith has been a most supportive mentor and friend, who has encouraged me to reach unexpected heights.  She strongly suggested that I become a member of BAIA and followed up to see that I did it.  I am truly grateful.

Faith’s “Anyone Can Fly Foundation” has had an annual fundraising Garden Party since 1999. My husband Jim and I first attended one of these artistically enlightening parties in 2006.  On June 24, 2007, Jim wrote the following poem while sitting in the garden.

The Garden Party
by James W. Miller

Live jazz tickles the ear,
While a canopy of trees redesign the sky.
Mixed company, mixed drinks, mixed conversation
Lips expose life lessons and reasons why.
Find yourself at the Garden Party of
Master Artist Faith Ringgold
Notice that everyone attending
Unify diverse cultures young and old
Creativity is alive and growing
Feel the pulse and heart beat here
One unique magical experience
Where only possibilities and purpose
Fill the atmosphere.

The following year I performed this poem ( a jazzed up version) at the Garden Party.  I started “The Garden Party Quilt” in 2007, which is actually a mixed media collage. I worked on the border and Faith. Then I had a creative block and just couldn’t figure out the composition.  I left the work alone until this year, when I realized that Faith would be celebrating her 80th birthday.

My dear mother, also, celebrated her 80th birthday this year.  Once I had completed a portrait for mom, I knew I wanted to present Faith with this The Garden Party Quilt. The Garden Parties from 2006 to 2010, Faith’s art, along with my hubby’s poem inspired this work.  Well here it is…

HAPPY 80th Birthday Faith!

With much Love, Robin