Faith Ringgold Has a Special Message for YOU!

Faith Ringgold

I recently had the amazing opportunity to sit down and speak with artist Faith Ringgold and ask her a few questions on behalf of art educators everywhere. You might be wondering how this “pinch me” moment occurred.

Well, today I am thrilled to announce that Faith Ringgold will be the final featured presenter at the 2016 AOE Winter Conference on January 30th! But don’t take it from me, Faith has a meesage just for you!

In her presentation “Faith Ringgold’s Wisdom and Inspiration for Art Teachers” the 85-year-old artist will cover things you may not know about her. She’ll talk about her experience teaching art in her early years, her daily art making routine, and her tips for making students think more creatively in the classroom.

Faith’s compelling story will not only leave you with inspiring ideas for your classroom, but with inspiring ideas for your life as well. Here is a bit of a teaser from my conversation with Faith.

4 Life Lessons For Art Teachers from Faith Ringgold


Lesson #1: Don’t be Afraid to Experiment

Faith’s work started with paintings on canvas because that was what most people were doing at the time. However, soon her pieces became larger and larger. In fact, they got so large, she could no longer carry them herself! So, she decided to go in a new direction and medium, and her quilts emerged.

Faith told me, “Because I always want to find new ways to create, I see no distinction between ‘high art’ and craft. For me, they are all media, they are all art.” She currently incorporates 16 different media into her work including soft sculpture, printmaking, and painting.

Lesson #2: Continually Reinvent Yourself as a Person and an Artist

At the age of 85, Faith is still creating. Her latest project is a game called “Quiltuduko.” Based on the popular Sudoku boards, Faith’s version replaces numbers with colorful imagery she has created. Try it out by downloading it from iTunes!

She told me, “I can’t imagine my life without art. I don’t know what my next project will be, but it’s in the back of my head. I can’t imagine what is coming next, but I know it will.”

This was perhaps the most powerful thing she told me.

It made me realize that there is always something coming next. Even when we think a chapter is finished, there will always be something new on the horizon. Much of what happens is up to us and our ability to envision and push toward a life and work that is true and authentic. Faith undoubtedly has risen to this challenge.

Lesson #3: Wake Up Each Day Looking for Possibility and Inspiration

Faith wakes up every single day and looks for the inspiration around her. She creates daily in some form. As I sat down to interview Faith from her personal studio where the creation happens, I couldn’t help but think that she walks the walk and talks the talk. We can believe in something and preach it to the rooftops, but without taking active steps, we are just talking. Let’s stop talking and start doing!

Lesson #4: Be Open to Feedback – See How Others View Your Work

I asked Faith how she feels when she sees students create their own Story Quilts inspired by her work. Faith said enthusiastically, “I LOVE IT!” She elaborated, saying, “I am inspired by the reactions of children to my work because it allows me to have an awareness of how my work is being seen by others.”

Of course, she always encourages students to put their own spin on things and tell their own stories through their work. She believes that art is personal. Who you are is the most influential thing in your art making.

Fatih said, “I love my work. I love what I do. I love inspiring others, as I have been inspired by so many others.”

Thank you, Faith, for inspiring all of us with your life’s work!

If you want to hear more of this amazing story, including Faith’s own struggles and triumphs as an art teacher,  join us on January 30th for the 2016 AOE Winter Conference. She is joined by many other big names including Barney Saltzberg, author of Beautiful Oops! and Danny Gregory, author of Art Before Breakfast. See the entire lineup right here and register today. Only a few SWAG boxes are left!

Which of Faith’s Life Lessons resonates most with you?

Have you ever used Faith’s work as inspiration for yourself or your students?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is AOEU’s Founder and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.

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