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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photography by Edward C. Robison III.

Maya's Quilt of Life

Artist: Faith Ringgold (born 1930)
Date: 1989
73 × 73 in. (185.4 × 185.4 cm)
Medium: Acrylic on canvas and painted, dyed, and pieced fabrics
Credit Line: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2015.23
Inscriptions: verso, l.l., in ink: Maya's Quilt of Life by Faith Ringgold © 1989, acrylic paint on canvas and printed, dyed and pieced fabrics, 73" by 73", text from Maya Angelou's published works by permission of Random House, NYC
On View
Accession Number: 2015.23
Provenancecommissioned by Oprah Winfrey for Maya Angelou [1928-2014], 1989; Estate of Maya Angelou, 2014; (Swann Galleries, New York, NY), September 15, 2015, sale 2390, The Art Collection of Maya Angelou, lot 32; purchased through (Art Agency, Partners, New York, NY) by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, 2015
Label TextCommissioned by Oprah Winfrey to celebrate Maya Angelou’s 61st birthday, Maya’s Quilt of Life depicts the distinguished author in her signature African-print dress and head wrap walking toward the viewer along a path lined with blossoming spring flowers. Handwritten texts on either side display excerpts from some of Angelou’s most famous works, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, an autobiography of her childhood in Stamps, Arkansas.

Maya’s Quilt of Life celebrates one of the greatest storytellers of the twentieth century. Like Angelou, Ringgold uses her art to illuminate the experience of being a black woman in America. The artist’s painted fabric works, known as story quilts, incorporate text and imagery alongside traditional quilted textile patterns. This approach honors an American craft by expanding on its traditional technique.