Provenance: commissioned by Oprah Winfrey and given to Dr. Angelou on her birthday; the estate of Dr. Maya Angelou.
Maya's Quilt of Life is a quintessential story quilt by Faith Ringgold - an excellent example of her unique art form, the artist's ingenious incorporation of painting, narrative texts and quilt-making, and a beautiful, moving portrait of Dr. Angelou. Ringgold paints a confident and beautiful young woman walking down a wooded path lined with blossoming spring flowers. Dr. Angelou is wearing her signature brightly patterned African print dress and head scarf. Ringgold's portrait embodies the strength, independence and beauty of Dr. Angelou. Ringgold's bold combination of collage, color and pattern all reinforce the visual expressiveness and celebratory character of the artwork.
The panels of hand-written quotations from Dr. Angelou's writings remind us of the two artists' common interests. Ringgold's story quilts were born from her writings and performance work in the early 1980s. She sought to express herself not only visually but "in her own words" - and has always included text in her story quilts. Ringgold has said her storytelling's aim was to "shed light on who I am as an African-American woman outside of the limitations that people's stereotypes place on me. I don't want to argue about it. I just want to re-tell the story."
Prominently hung in Dr. Angelou's Harlem home, Maya's Quilt of Life made a lasting impression on the many family members, friends and guests who came to visit - though this is the first time it has been publicly exhibited. This is also the first time one of Faith Ringgold story quilts has come to auction. Farrington pp. 73 and 99.