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Faith Ringgold’s Bitter Net: African American Quilting

1993 words - 8 pages

Quilt making in the African American community has a long history dating back to the 18th century and has been important for ways of communicating social and political conditions. During the time when African Americans were enslaved, quilting became a popular way of communicating safety to African Americans escaping their way to freedom, up north. The tradition of Quilting was past down form generation to generation, by mother’s to daughter’s as a way of teaching the daughter about the past and giving them a valuable skill that could add to their lives. In the series Bitter Nest by Faith Ringgold, Ringgold’s communicates her life experiences with her daughters though using the art of story telling, traditional African materials, the art of quilting, and elements of art to make a unique story-quilt that appeals to African Americans of all ages.
The book by Faith Ringgold entitled Faith Ringgold, explains the story of a mother and daughter during the Harlem Renaissance era in New York. According to the book, the series deals with many generational issues of a middle class black family and focuses on the drama, and tension between a mother and daughter who are profoundly different. The series represents a relationship much like the relationship between Faith Ringgold and her two daughters. The story follows a daughter named, Celia Cleopatra Price, a graduate of Howard University, who graduated first in her class. She is unable to identify with her mother, CeeCee. CeeCee had only finished the 8th grade and dropped out due to her pregnancy with Celia. CeeCee is a very creative individual and makes bags; she is married to”the dentist”, who a young CeeCee meets in the first quilt Love in the School Yard. CeeCee thinks Celia has developed “deafness when she talks” over the years and the relationship with these two is further strained by the fact that Celia is embarrassed by the way her mother dresses, and the way she dances while at a party for her father; she sees her as a “low class hussy” that clutters up her “the dentists” house with all her Mammy-made bags.” Later on in the Homecoming quilt “the dentist” dies and Celia begins to mend her relationship with her mother after CeeCee invites family members over to help set up a studio were CeeCee sells her bags.
By just looking at Love in the School Yard, the story is not completely clear because the picture only gives one moment at the beginning the story and does not show any progression in character development because it’s only one picture. The text around the boarder adds that lack of information in the picture to help the viewer visualize the story in their mind. Homecoming, behaves in a similar way by taking a picture that is beautiful on its own and adding a story around the boarder to give the picture context and meaning. This helps push the visual experience into something much greater like reading a story book, or a graphic novel. Also the story is further expanded on by the historical...

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