Noted activist and artist Faith Ringgold to be honored as Chubb Fellow

Faith Ringgold in front of her piece, Tar Beach 2.
Faith Ringgold in front of her piece, “Tar Beach 2.” (Photo credit: Grace Matthews)

Educator, artist, and activist Faith Ringgold will visit the campus on Thursday, Feb. 15 under the auspices of the Chubb Fellowship.

Ringgold will give the Chubb Fellowship Lecture titled “Anyone Can Fly” at 4:30 p.m. in the Robert L. McNeil Jr. Lecture Hall, Yale University Art Gallery, 1111 Chapel St. Seating is limited; doors will open at 3:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. It will be livestreamed on Yale’s YouTube channel.

Ringgold was born and raised in Harlem, New York City; her career spans more than half a century. In the 1960s as an art teacher in the New York City public schools, she began a series of paintings called “American People” that portrayed the Civil Rights Movement from a female perspective. She also organized and fought for works of African American and women artists to be included in museums and galleries. In the 1980s, she embarked on projects that employed the medium of the “story quilt,” rooted in African American communal traditions of quilting and storytelling that have been critical for connecting family stories and lives across many generations. One of her best-known works from this period is the “1988 Tar Beach” (Part I from the Woman on Bridge Series), which is included in the permanent collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 

Ringgold has also produced numerous public art works including: “Flying Home: Harlem Heroes and Heroines” for the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s 125th Street subway stop; “For the Women’s House” for the Rose M. Singer Center on Rikers Island; The Crown Heights Children’s History Quilt at Public School 22 in Brooklyn, New York; and many others across the country.

Since the 1990s she has also written and illustrated many acclaimed children’s books. Among them are “Tar Beach,” which was a Caldecott Honor Book and a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award; “Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky,” which is credited with helping young readers explore African American history; “Dinner at Aunt Connie’s House,” which honors civil rights activists Fannie Lou Hamer, Mary McCleod Bethune, and Zora Neale Hurston, among others; and “If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Ms. Rosa Parks,” which won the 2000 NAACP’s Image Award.

The recipient of more than 75 awards, including 22 Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees, Ringgold has received fellowships and grants for her painting and sculpture from the National Endowment for the Arts, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, La Napoule Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, and many more. She is professor emeritus at the University of California-San Diego, where she taught art from 1987 to 2002.

The Chubb Fellowship was founded with a gift from Yale alumnus Hendon Chubb, and since 1949 has been one of Yale’s most prestigious honors conferred on visiting speakers. The Timothy Dwight College Head of College, currently Mary Lui, administers the fellowship, which is devoted to encouraging interest in public service. Chubb Fellows spend their time at Yale in close, informal contact with students and make an appearance open to the public. Former Chubb Fellows include Presidents George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Harry Truman; authors Wendell Berry and Toni Morrison; actors Morgan Freeman and Shah Rukh Khan; world leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; journalist Nicholas Kristoff; and many other nationally and internationally prominent citizens and leaders.

Media Contact

Bess Connolly Martell: elizabeth.connolly@yale.edu, 203-432-1324