Story quilts are complex artworks, rich with personal details and meaning. They can tell the tales of our own history, or link us to the shared experiences of our community. Faith Ringgold's Tar Beach does both. It combines painting, quilt-making, fictional narrative, and autobiography in a single art form that encourages children to soar high and follow their dreams.
Meet the Artist
Show participating students pages from Tar Beach and ask them to describe what they see. Share the artist's inspiration for this work: When Ringgold was a young girl in Harlem, her family would cool off on the roof on hot summer nights. She would lie on a mattress looking up at the George Washington Bridge, the starry night sky, and the skyscrapers all around her. Tar Beach, completed in 1988, is the first of five quilts in Ringgold's “Woman on a Bridge” series. Ringgold worked in acrylic on canvas, with a tie-dyed and pieced fabric border. The quilt measures six feet tall and wide. It hangs in the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Create Your Own Quilt
Christy Hale is an education writer and children's book illustrator based in San Francisco, CA. Her most recent professional book is Quilting Activities for Little Learners (Scholastic, 2004). This article was originally published in the January/February 2004 issue of Instructor within a special AccuCut® "Quilting in the Classroom" supplement.