Men: Mask Face Quilt #2"
Faith Ringgold is known for her painted story quilts, combining painting, quilted fabric and storytelling.
Her work is included in the permanent collections of major museums. She has written and illustrated numerous books for children and is a professor of art at the University of California in San Diego.
"I absolutely love it so much I just can't tell you. I just love it. I just feel like I'm the luckiest person in the world being able to do what I love and be able to do it all day every day if I like, you know, I mean it's great, I love it.
"Those were the first two quilts that I did for my very first exhibition at the Bernice Steinbaum gallery in Soho. I had this idea that I wanted to do this mixture of visions of African American women and visions of African American men. And call it "The Men" and call it "The Women" and show different faces of these two people.
"Because the mask is your face, the face is a mask, so I'm thinking of the face as a mask because of the way I see faces is coming from an African vision of the mask which is the thing that we carry around with us, it is our presentation, it's our front, it's our face.
"I was trying to say something, I was trying to use this, this African vision, but I was trying to tell an American story.
"I guess I had fun doing it but it has hard memories for me. I was pleased with the results but every time I look at both of those pictures, I feel a little bit of the pain I felt in trying to put it together. I had something I was trying to say and sometimes the message is an easy transmission and sometimes it's a difficult one but I love the power of saying it so I'm gonna do it whether it's hard or easy. Because I just love the idea that I can, I can say it!
"There probably are misconceptions about my work in that some people look at it and they try to figure, 'Oh it's a quilt, well I wonder how does she, how does she stitch those. . .' They try to get it. They don't understand it's a painting. They don't get it. They're looking at it, they're standing right in front of it but they're trying to make that all stitching. I think actually it's been a benefit to me that my work has been in quilt form, that I decided to quilt my paintings, which is what I do.
"I think that has been a benefit to me because I think most people understand quilts and not a lot of people understand paintings. But yet they're looking at one. When they're looking at my work, they're looking at a painting and they're able to accept it better because it is also a quilt.
"I think about what I'm trying to say and recognize the fact that people may see what I see or may hear what I'm saying or may not. I'm not so presumptuous to feel that they're gonna get it right away, get exactly what I have in mind. I hope that they'll enjoy looking at it at any rate, whatever it is. And that's why I started writing stories on my work.
"I'm not presumptuous enough to feel that people are going to feel what I have in mind, so I tell a story, you know, let them read something, that doesn't change, that as I have said it, you know, so that's the way I feel about the viewer, the viewer has a mind of their own and eyes of their own and they're going to see it their way, I just hope they look."