While today’s post is a short one, the power in this piece makes up for my brevity.
The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles is an homage to strong black women, solidarity and the power of community. The 8 women surrounding a communal quilt of sunflowers are CJ Walker, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Fannie Lou Hammer, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks Mary McLeod Bethune and Ella Baker. In some lithographed versions of this work there’s a fictional character in the bottom left corner of the quilt and off to the right side of the painting we see a wistful, pensive Vincent Van Gogh carrying a bouquet of his beloved sunflowers in tribute to the women. Ringgold’s work is all about second looks and dual meaning. This piece has been cropped and re-printed in so many variations it’s too easy to miss the subtlety; for example I cannot make out the text that surrounds the work which I have no doubt would bring more depth and complexity to the work. I have a growing list of paintings I need to travel to see in person. This is one of them.