THE SUNFLOWER QUILTING BEE AT ARLES
“The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles”, by Faith Ringgold Shirley J Rico
“The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles”, by Faith Ringgold
The piece of art that most stood out to me while visiting the California African American Museum in Exposition Park, in Los Angeles, was “The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles ”, created by Faith Ringgold in 1996. In the art piece, 8 influential African American throughout history from the 19th and 20th Century are sitting together in a field of sunflowers holding a beautiful quilt that they have made together. It is set in Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflower garden in Arles, France, thus Ringgold included Van Gogh in her picture as well.
The art piece was done by acrylic on canvas, and it is a contemporary art piece, as was much of the art movement in the 1990’s when the painting was made, as well as post-impressionism as inspired by Van Gogh’s famous Sunflower paintings. By using texts, symbols, and metaphors in her painting, Ringgold portrays 8 influential African American women who she believes contributed immensely in promoting freedom and civil rights activism: Madame C. J. Walker, the first African American woman millionaire; Harriet Tubman, the leader of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War; Rosa Parks, also known as the “mother of the Civil Rights Movement” in the 1960’s; Sojourner Truth, the women’s rights activist from the 1880’s; Ida B. Wells, one of the first African-American journalists and civil rights activists in the late 1800’s; Fannie Lou Hamer, organizer of the Mississippi’s Freedom Summer for the Student Council; Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of one of the first private schools in Florida for African-American girls and National adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt; and Ella Baker, a civil rights activist who worked with Martin Luther King, Jr, W.E.B. Du Bois, and others. In her piece, Ringgold wanted to pay tribute to those honorary African American women who with their work influenced a positive impact and made the world better for African-Americans, women, and society as a whole. She portrays these amazing and important women holding a quilt, which I believe symbolizes their little bit of individual struggles and efforts for a better world, quilted together. I found it so inspiring seeing some of the most influential women in history together in one place, promoting their friendship, solidarity, and mission to create a better world for everyone. In visiting the California African American Museum, I was inspired and awed seeing the many different styles of art and different mediums used. I loved how it portrayed the struggles of the African American community, and the obstacles that the world in general have overcome in our society. It gave me a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the struggles and triumphs of the African-American community, and of how everyone is the same with their struggles and their success. I fully enjoyed visiting the museum and gaining a deeper understanding of the many different and beautiful cultures God has created.
Faith Ringgold, The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles, (1996). Acrylic on Canvas, 22x30in.
Bibliography: Faith Ringgold, The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles, (1996).
Acrylic on Canvas, 22x30in.
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