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Artist Faith Ringgold Named Recipient of Smithsonian Craft Show’s 2017 Visionary Award

March 23, 2017

Artist Faith Ringgold has been named the recipient of the Smithsonian Craft Show’s 2017 Visionary Award. The announcement was made by Ethelmary Maddox and Kathy Sommerkamp, the co-chairs of this year’s show.

The award, which will be presented at the Craft Show’s Preview Night Benefit April 26, recognizes an artist who has achieved distinction in the field of sculptural arts and design, whose works are in major museums and who has demonstrated innovation, creativity, artistry and vision in his or her respective medium. Previous awardees are Wendell Castle, Albert Paley, Toots Zynsky and Dale Chihuly.

“We are thrilled to honor Faith Ringgold this year,” Maddox said. “She is a master of many media, who broke ground and opened museum doors for artists of color and women.”

Sommerkamp added, “Her work weaves compelling, powerful narratives of American life as seen through the lens of the African American female experience.”

Ringgold’s work has been exhibited in major museums and galleries around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Tate Modern in London and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Her first published children’s book, Tar Beach, based on her story quilt of the same name, won more than 30 awards, including a Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King Award for the best illustrated children’s book of 1991. Ringgold has received more than 80 awards, fellowships, citations and honors, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for painting, two National Endowment for the Arts Awards and more than 20 honorary doctorates.

About the Smithsonian Craft Show

The 35th annual Smithsonian Craft Show will be held April 27–30 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., with a preview night reception April 26. The show will feature 120 fine-art craft artists representing 34 states. The participants were chosen from more than 1,000 applicants, including many of the most accomplished artisans in the United States.

Proceeds from the Craft Show are distributed to the Smithsonian’s 28 museums and research centers (including the National Zoo) through an annual competitive grants program. Almost $12 million in grants and endowments have been awarded by the Smithsonian Women’s Committee. For a list of recent grants, visit

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Courtesy Faith Ringgold

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Heidi Austreng    
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Sharon Block  
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Black and white portrait of Faith Ringgold