About the Artist
Faith Ringgold—a painter, writer, speaker, mixed media sculptor, and performance artist—lives and works in Englewood, New Jersey. Ringgold is the recipient of more than 75 awards, including 22 Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees. For more information on her works of art, public works, and books, visit www.faithringgold.com.
About the Art
The mural For the Women’s House was dedicated to the women incarcerated in the Correctional Institution for Women on Rikers Island, New York City, in January 1972. The mural remained on view until the facility became a male prison in 1988. Deemed inappropriate for the incoming male prisoners, the painting was whitewashed, but it was later saved by a guard, restored, and reinstalled in the new women’s prison, the Rose M. Singer Center, where it remains on view.
Imagining the first female president and professional women basketball players among other positive female role models, For the Women’s House incorporates suggestions offered to Faith Ringgold by incarcerated women. The play on words in the imaginary route and destination of the bus in the upper quadrant—“2A Sojourner Truth Square”—speaks to the “long road leading out of here” that the women had asked to see depicted.
In an April 1972 interview with her daughter, writer Michele Wallace, Ringgold described her goals for the piece:
If I hadn’t done it for the Women’s House then it probably would have been more political; but these women have been rejected by society; they are the blood guilt of society, so if this is what I give them, then maybe that is what we should all have. Maybe all that other stuff we’re talking about is jive because these women are real. They don’t have anything to be unreal about. Made for women’s prison, wanted to provide positive representations of the women to inspire them which involved input from the inmates themselves.