While featuring only 16 artworks, don’t let the size of the “Faith Ringgold: Freedom to Say What I Please” exhibition stop you from making a trip to the Worcester Art Museum during its six-month run. Each piece has its own intricate story and, judging by the audience reaction to its first month on exhibit, each person attending brings their own personal experience with Ringgold’s art to the space.
The show was organized by Samantha Cataldo, the museum’s Associate Curator of Art, who built the show around Ringgold’s 1991 “Picasso’s Studio” narrative quilt from the museum’s collection.
“WAM acquired the ‘Picasso’s Studio’ quilt soon after it was made,” Cataldo said. “It is a reflection on the museum at the time. Ten years later, other museums were catching up. They (WAM) had the good foresight to acquire it in the ‘90s.”
The quilt hadn’t been exhibited at WAM for at least 10 years; it was most recently displayed this past spring as part of a major retrospective of her work at the Picasso Museum in Paris.
The Worcester show is the result of Cataldo’s devotion to making it happen — and being able to work with people devoted to Ringgold and her legacy. “I would find out where everything is and write letters to the galleries and museums — they helped with private collectors who don’t want you to know who they are; you go through the galleries,” she said. “ACA Galleries in New York was really my main contact. They’ve had her work for years and years and have been supporting her since before the world started following her.
“It’s a gallery’s job to support their artists in all ways,” Cataldo went on “to place their work in collections and helping to make sure that when there’s a request to show it in a public exhibition that request is fulfilled.”