Wednesday, June 2, 2010

American People #1: Between Friends

American People #1: Between Friends by Faith Ringgold (1963), 
Oil on Canvas, 40 x 24 inches.  All rights reserved.

 That summer of 1963 I took the girls to Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.  We had been invited to spend the summer there on the estate of Dr. and Mrs. Goldsberry of Wooster . . . .
"That summer of 1963 was the beginning of my mature work.  I planned to paint five paintings in my new style, which I called “Super Realism.”  The idea was to make a statement in my art about the Civil Rights Movement and what was happening to black people in America at that time, and to make it super-real.   
Painting outdoors has its own problem, not the least of which is the insects that fly into the wet oil paint and get stuck there.  But I survived the insects and the sun, and produced the first of the twenty-odd paintings of my American People Series.
The first painting, Between Friends, depicting an uneasy meeting between a black and a white woman, was inspired by the women who came to weekday poker parties at the Goldsberry’s house while their husbands were in their offices in town.  The Goldsberrys were lifetime members of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) and entertained an interracial group of high powered friends.  I thought the white women were simply representing their husbands, and I could sense a lot of distance between friendship and what these women were sharing. "
From WE FLEW OVER THE BRIDGE: THE MEMOIRS OF FAITH RINGGOLD, Duke University Press (originally published 1995) 2005 (144-45) 

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About Me

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I am a writer and a professor of English at the City College of New York, and the CUNY Graduate Center. My books include Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman (1979), Invisibility Blues (1990), Black Popular Culture (1992), and Dark Designs and Visual Culture (2005). I write cultural criticism frequently and am currently working on a project on creativity and feminism among the women in my family, some of which is posted on the Soul Pictures blog.