“How could I as an African-American woman artist document what was happening all around me?” asked Faith Ringgold in speaking about her motivation behind creating American People Series #20: Die. “I would try to tell my story with images of America as I saw it in the 1960s.” Created in the summer of 1967, during waves of civil unrest in response to police brutality in Black neighborhoods across the US, this powerful painting, the final work in Ringgold’s American People Series, unflinchingly confronts race relations.The mural-sized canvas depicts well-dressed, white and Black figures fleeing, fighting, and killing one another, with an interracial pair of children cowering at the center. Ringgold took inspiration from Pablo Picasso’s Guernica—another epic painting that addressed the cost of violence—and made frequent visits to MoMA, where it was once on view.
Delve into Faith Ringgold’s more than 50 years of art and activism—from paintings and posters to quilts and children’s books—as part of our Virtual Views series. Take a close look at Die, and hear Ringgold share perspectives on her work, activism past and present, and American culture during a live Q&A between the artist and curator Anne Umland, along with poetry, audio features, and more.