This blog is composed of images and writings related to the life and work of Faith Ringgold, her mother Mme. Willi Posey, and her daughters Michele and Barbara Wallace. There are pages with links to blogs composed of the materials arranged by decades. The blog, itself, will ultimately be composed of materials related to the life of the family in the 90s and the 21st century.

Friday

Photo-Essay: Willi Posey, Faith, Barbara, and Andrew 1970s

"Primitive is a word I use in a positive way to explain the completeness of a concept in art.  I like to layer and pattern and embellish my art in the manner of tribal art, and then, like a blues singer, I like to repeat and repeat it again.  Fragmented, understated, or minimalist art forms frustrate me.  I want to finish them.  In the 1960s there was a minimalist aesthetic advocating "less is more."  To me, less is even less and more is still not quite enough. "
Faith Ringgold, WE FLEW OVER THE BRIDGE: THE MEMOIRS OF FAITH RINGGOLD, Bullfinch 1995.
These words written to amplify her use of beads, feathers and embellishment on her masks inspired by her trip to Nigeria and Ghana the summers of 1976 and 1977, are also stunning to consider in relationship to much of the soft sculpture and painting Faith did in the early 70s.   For instance, these soft sculptures which were part of an extended series of masks with costumes made by MJ in tribute to the memories of the families she knew growing up in Harlem, are relevant as well to her approach to primitivism as an aesthetic concept in which one would deliberately overdo, underscore and emphasize.
Many of these masks were of people no longer living and may have been in part inspired by the series of deaths of many older members of Faith's immediate family in the 60s and early 70s, as would be more strongly referenced in THE WAKE AND RESURRECTION OF THE BICENTENNIAL NEGRO.  This particular sculptural group is of MJ, Mom and her siblings as children.  All these years later, now that the others are dead (Aunt Barbara and MJ) as well as Uncle Andrew, these sculpture have a commemorative feeling to them.  For me I had always thought of their faces as masks of death.  The faces are placid like corpses displayed in an open coffin at a funeral, of which there were many we attended at that time.
As for the sculpture themselves, it is as if I had grown into the acceptance of them over time in replacement of the lost family members.   At the time, when I would visit Faith, I remember the house slowly filling up with them and wondering what it might mean for the future.

One needs to be reminded that these soft sculptures (also masks with costumes attached) are designed to be abstract representations of MJ (Faith's mother), herself, her sister and her brother as children. Photograph by Barbara Wallace at ACA gallery earlier this year.

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Michele Wallace: Talking in Pictures

Michele Wallace: Talking in Pictures
Barbara, MJ, Michele and Mom in the background in sunglasses at a fashion show in the early 60s