The Memoirs of Faith Ringgold
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 In her first book for adults, artist and children's author Ringgold tells an occasionally engaging but flawed account of her very full life. Ringgold has lived through much, suffered some, and occasionally hobnobbed with the great. Moving from the poorer Valley to Harlem's Sugar Hill, where she lived for most of her life, Ringgold recalls seeing Joe Louis before and after a big fight and listening to fledgling jazz musician Miles Davis. But these glimpses of Harlem high life are fleeting, while more of the work is focused on Ringgold's relationships, her activism, and her art. Ringgold began seriously studying art in college, and throughout her lifewhile teaching to help support her first husband, a jazz musician; after their divorce, as a single mothershe remained devoted to her work. She progressed from Impressionist-inspired paintings to protest art, African- type masks, children's books, and her trademark story quilts. In fact, the book often feels like a catalogue of Ringgold's artwork, divided by vignettes from her life. These are told with candor (and some complaining): her difficult relationship with her daughters, for example, or her inability to find acceptance as a black woman artist in either the white art establishment or in the male-dominated black artists' community. On the other hand, the experiences she recalls less vividly are suffused with a rosy glow. Ultimately, the book lacks of coherence. The story doesn't progress chronologically, but folds backward on itself again and again, unfocused and repetitive. And there is a YA flavor to the undertaking, as though Ringgold had managed to move up from children's stories but not quite to the level of her intended audience. A fine effort, but Ringgold's art speaks louder than her words. (photos and color illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-8212-2071-3
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1995