Artist Faith Ringgold Discusses "Tar Beach" on "Craft in America"
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Artist Faith Ringgold, whose seminal story quilt Tar Beach has been in the Guggenheim Museum's collection since 1988, is the subject of the season-four premiere of Craft in America's "Threads" episode, first airing on PBS on Friday, May 11, at 9:00 pm (check local listings for times and additional dates).
Craft in America is a Peabody Award–winning series dedicated to exploring the rich fabric of the United States' craft history and contemporary currents in craft art. Season four's premiere episode of "Threads" features Ringgold, as well as craft artists Randall Darwall, Consuelo Jimenez Underwood, and Terese Agnew. The episode focuses on how these four artists use fabric fibers in quilts, collages, and textiles to tell their stories.
Craft in America interviewed Ringgold at the Guggenheim Museum in New York as she reflected on Tar Beach and its expression of her all-encompassing credo, "Anyone can fly." In painted panels, sewn fabric, and text, the work depicts the fantasies of an eight-year-old heroine, Cassie Louise Lightfoot, who flies through the sky on a summer night in Harlem. Ringgold later adapted the quilt's story into an eponymous children's book, which in 1992 was named a Caldecott Honor Book and won the Coretta Scott King Award for illustration.
In "Threads," Ringgold remembers the real-life inspiration for the quilt and ties the masterwork to her interest in narration, as well as to her long devotion to civil rights—in the 1970s, Ringgold played a key role in demonstrating against museums for their failure to recognize the achievements of black and female artists. Ringgold also talks about her recent projects, including creating a quilt of President Barack Obama and teaching children the power and potential of craft art.