and she is the google doodle for MLK day, here are some excerpts from my forthcoming article in Frontiers special issue on the feminsit art movement “Beyond NY/LA” that I also edited.
T.V. Reed’s observation in The Art of Protest that the civil rights movement “created a master framework for protests” that followed is certainly true for activism in the art world (and is what my Frontiers’ essay is all about!).
Spiral, an early black arts group inspired by the March on Washington, formed in 1964 and included one black woman, Emma Amos. Faith Ringgold apparently wrote to the group asking to join, but never received a reply. In late 1968, Ringgold and Tom Lloyd organized one of the very earliest artists’ protests in New York , which targeted the Whitney exhibition The 1930’s: Painting and Sculpture in America because it included no black artists
In April of 1969, Lloyd and Ringgold formed an ad hoc group, Black and Puerto Rican Students and Artists for a Black Wing in Memory of MLK, to demonstrate outside MoMA in protest of racism in the museum. The immediate provocation had been an exhibition commemorating the first anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. that hung white and black artists’ work on separate walls.
In June of 1970 Ringgold, along with her daughter Michele Wallace, co-founded Women Students and Artists for Black Art Liberation (WASBAL), a group whose name attests to the diverse coalition it sought to organize and its goals were similarly diverse incorporating both gender and race. Ringgold continued to work with groups of women as well and in the fall of 1970, along with Lucy Lippard, Poppy Johnson, Brenda Miller and started The Ad Hoc Women’s Committee (AHWC).
The sheer number and range of the groups to which she belonged illustrate Ringgold’s persistent quest to find a place and space for her identity as a black woman artist. As she pointedly asked “when there is a group for blacks…and a group for women, where do I go?” Sadly the answer was all too often no where, the result, as Lisa Gail Collins has noted, of the black art and feminist art movements, taking largely parallel, not intersectional paths, despite the similarities of their causes, to expand access to and success in the art world beyond white males.