“If One Can Anyone Can
All you Gotta Do Is Try”
Every once in a while, life just hands you a huge treat. Very serendipitously, tonight I found myself at a wonderful talk by Faith Ringgold, a fabulous artist and writer. She is the author of almost a score of children’s books, including the lovely Tar Beach, The Invisible Princess, and If a Bus Could Talk: the Story of Rosa Parks. Though she studied art, Faith also had a love of language and a flair for writing. She put the two together and began creating amazing story quilts, which combined narrative text and stunning artwork.
She took this route because she had a lot to say but initially couldn’t find find anyone who would give her the opportunity to become an author in the traditional sense. So she decided to create her own kind of book through her art. As she put it, “When my mother died in 1981, I started making quilts as a tribute to her. During that time, I was trying to get my autobiography published, but no one wanted to print my story. In 1983, I began writing stories on my quilts, as an alternative. That way, when my quilts were hung up to look at, or photographed for a book, people could still read my stories.”
Faith has “written” 30 story quilts over the years: each section written on the quilt is a page. Her approach worked: “I thought it would be a good way to get people to read my stories and maybe that way I could get one of them published as a book.” An editor saw one of her story quilts and Faith’s first book, Tar Beach, was born. Since then, she’s written and illustrated a dazzling array of children’s stories, fulfilling a lifelong ambition.
Faith just turned 80 and is the inspiration for a wonderful children’s museum of art and storytelling that’s now on the drawing board in Sugar Hill, a storied Manhattan neighborhood. Amazing woman, amazing writer! Check our her artwork and story at http://www.faithringgold.com. Fantastic!