“Ideas are my freedom,” says Faith Ringgold. “And freedom is why I became an artist.” She was born in Harlem in 1930, and as a young woman took part in the civil rights movement. To protest and to provoke, she made vibrant paintings, story quilts, and political posters. Ringgold subverts history to powerful effect—her 1981 painting Picasso’s Studio, for instance, pictures Picasso inserting a naked Black woman into his Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. She asks witty, pointed questions, as in the 1983 story quilt (her first) Who’s Afraid of Aunt Jemima? Today, at 89, Ringgold’s voice and verve are as strong as ever. This museum retrospective looks at her formative decades, with 70 stunning works on display. —E.C.
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