Students Select: Shirla Hector '21 on Faith Ringgold’s “Where Do All the Children Go...?"

March 26, 2021 12:00PM

Created in 2010, Faith Ringgold’s “Where Do All the Children Go...?” features faces of young, black boys and girls covering a red and white background. The word ‘Haiti’ is labeled across the faces of the young boys and girls in white bold letters. Around the border says “where do all the children go when their world comes tumbling down? Some will take-off to the savior in the sky, others will quite simply stretch their wings and fly.”

I chose this Faith Ringgold piece because of my familiarity with the artist. She has one of the first representational artworks of what it is like to not only be a black or brown body in America, but what it's like to be a black woman in America. She is able to depict this in most of her artworks. “Where Do All the Children Go...?” subtly portrays the struggle of being African American in white America; the children hidden behind the WHITE bolded ‘Haiti’ represents how African Americans are often ostracized and not counted in as American or don't get to experience the ‘American Dream/Life’ although they may come from different parts of the world. The children are shown smiling through all the pain, which also implies no matter the hardships African Americans endure, they must push through and be optimistic.

America was built on the exploitation of those less fortunate and the quilt represents this idea very well. The now 90-year-old, was a political and feminist artist long before these themes were even a part of the mainstream landscape of black artists; Ringgold was also one of the first women to organize protests and was able to fight to get the works of other African American women artists into museums and galleries. Ringgold began her American People series in 1963, which was a pivotal year in the civil rights movement. Ringgold has accomplished nailing her personal statement through her art about what was happening at this critical time. The artwork is an emotional and visual kaleidoscope of many major events, attitudes, and actions that affects African Americans.

“Where Do All the Children Go...?” is a stable piece to black and brown bodies all across this country. Everyday they experience injustices against them - Ringgold was able to portray this in her painting, with everything being symbolic. The white bold word across the semi-smiling faces of the youth. With hope in their hearts but too much disappointment to continue on believing…

Minoring in Africana Studies and having an Art History major, I have a soft spot for when I see African American Artists (especially women) featured anywhere -whether that's a new article, gallery, exhibit, or an installation. Artists like Ringgold have fought long fights for black artists to have access to opportunities like this. Considering Black History just passed, I believe it is important for the appropriate recognition to be given to African American artists. “Where Did All the Children Go...?” is a powerful piece.

Shirla Hector '21 is a senior at Lehigh University majoring in Art History and Fashion and Textile Studies with minors in

Marketing and Africana Studies. Designed by Hector, Fashion and Textile Studies is an interdisciplinary major that contains elements of art history, art, and theatre. 




Image: Faith Ringgold. Where Do All the Children Go...?" 2010. Screen print on paper. Edition 94/200. In Honor of the Experimental Printmaking Institute, Lafayette College. LUG 2015 1033.