American People Series by Faith Ringgold

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While Faith Ringgold has had a long and successful career, the most exciting and powerful works of art she has created were the works of the nineteen-sixties. These works illustrate such passion and raw truth of the situation she and all of the African American people of the U.S. were facing during those turbulent times. These works of art truly show the growing divide between the American dream and the reality of life for many people. Faith used her artwork to tell the world her views on the political movements of the time, and to also express her disapproval of violent protests that were happening. Ringgold believed that the rights of everyone could only be attained through the unification of all people at a basic undeniable level.

The American People series she created from nineteen sixty-three to sixty-seven were her first political paintings. These paintings were meant to confound the ways in which she was taught to paint. Instead of looking to Greece for inspiration as she was taught, she instead looked toward Africa. Her influences on the American People series were cubism and African art, a first and large step away from her schooling that she recently completed. She used bold flat colors and abstracted forms to create her own unique style.

The goal of the series was to paint a true picture of American Society and she accomplished this by "alluding to social movements that criticized specific aspects of the U.S. government policy and attempted to bring about change in the establishment."(Great Women Masters of Art p.438) While many people of the times were protesting these same issues Ringgold used her art to peacefully protest, and to illustrate her criticism for violent protests that occurred. According to Ringgold, "violent protest threatens the very existence of the country."(Great Women Masters p.439)

One work from this series that clearly demonstrates her ideas is, The Flag is Bleeding. This was the eighteenth painting in the series and is...
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