If One Can Anyone Can
All you Gotta Do Is Try
Faith  Ringgold
Frequently Asked Questions

So many of you take the time and effort to write to me in such a colorful and artful way-- decorating each of the well written letters with brightly colored borders-- that I really look forward to hearing from you. So thank you and keep writing. I have found a way to answer you. The following are some of your questions:
Are you making another children's book?
Yes I have just published a new book titled "Cassie's Word Quilt" for preschool children. I am working on two new books "My Grandma's Story Quilt and a story about the Harlem Renaissance Party.
How long does it take to make a story quilt?
Some quilts take more time than others. Tar Beach took me only a month to make.
Where is your art work and does it get damaged on the road?
My art work is in public and private collections all over the world. I have made more than ninety-five quilts and hundreds of other kinds of art work. I have been making art for more than fifty years. Some of my work has been damaged on the road but not very often.
Do you visit schools?
Yes. I do slide lectures based on my life and work at Colleges, Universities, Museums and Cultural Centers in the USA and abroad. I also visit elementary, middle and high schools but my work is demanding so I don't travel very often but I hope to see many of you some day.
How do you write the story of your quilts?
I think about the characters and the story I want to tell and then I begin to write the chapters in segments. And then, just like the materials of a quilt, I piece the words together until they make a story. I have to edit many times before it is finished and ready to be written on the quilt.
When you were teaching art in New York did you ever think you would be famous?
I have always known that the way to get what you want is don't settle for less. I don't know about being famous but I always knew I would be an artist.
Since your brother was older than you did he ever kid you?
Andrew was fond of telling scary nighttime stories about the Boogie Man when all the lights were out and we kids were supposed to be asleep.
When are you going to paint the pictures on the West 125th street subway?
The two mosaic murals for the platforms of the West 125th Street IRT Subway (On Lenox Avenue in Harlem) were fabricated from my original paintings in a small town near Venice, Italy and installed in the subway in December of 1996. When you are in New York, go to see them. And then have dinner at, Sylvia's, the famous soul food restaurant just a block away.
Where do you get your good ideas?
My ideas come from reflecting on my life and the lives of people I have known and have been in some way inspired by.
Do you do all your books on the criticism of black people?
Like all artists and writers, I am both enriched and limited by what I know and have experienced. In other words my books and my art are based on my life's experience. I am, as you know, a black woman in America.
Do you have any children?
I have two daughters and three granddaughters. They are all strong readers and can fly.
What do you do in your spare time?
I try to relax and do nothing but somehow it never works out that way. I really enjoy working and I can find many ways to work that are almost play.
Was it hard for you growing up?
I had a wonderful childhood growing up in Harlem with many wonderful role models as neighbors. Among them were Thurgood Marshall, Dinah Washington, Mary McLeod Bethune, Aaron Douglass and Duke Ellington.
Do you keep many of your quilts for yourself?
I try to keep the best for myself but I have not been able to. Church Picnic belongs to The High Museum, Atlanta, Georgia.
I bet you're proud of yourself?
I try to remember to be proud, but sometime I only think about how I would like to do better.
What inspired you to write story quilts?
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. It worked with Tar Beach.
The first time on the roof were you scared?
I was never afraid because my parents and my brother and sister were always with me on the roof.
Who has the original Tar Beach quilt?
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
Do you have a pet?
Yes, we have an indoor aquarium with goldfish.
What month were you born?
I was born on October 8, 1930.
Who taught you to sew?
My mother taught me to sew and her mother taught her.
Are you working on anything new?
Yes, I am working on Part 2 of my Coming to Jones Road Series. I am also working on a series of Jazz images.
How do you write on a quilt?
I use a black fine (felt) tip Sanford Sharpie marker.
Are the stories on your quilts about your life?
Except for the Change Quilts, which dealt with my weight loss, none of my quilts are autobiographical.
Do you live near the George Washington bridge?
YES. I have always lived close to the George Washington on one side or the other.
How do you travel from New York to California?
Often and with ease (until September 11) on United Airlines.
Why do you like the George Washington bridge so much?
I have been looking at the George Washington Bridge and traveling on it all my life, so that its beauty is very familiar to me.
What college did you go to?
I received my Bachelors and Masters degrees from The City College of New York many years ago. I taught in the New York Public schools for 18 and one half years, however, today I am a senior professor of art at University of California in San Diego, California

I hope this answers many of your questions. If you want to ask more questions please use the Send a message page or e-mail them to me at Faithringgold.com.

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