Skip to main content

Subway Graffiti #3

Faith Ringgold (1930– ), Subway Graffiti #3, 1987, acrylic on canvas with pieced fabric border, 60 x 84 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Curtis and Mary Ann Atkisson, Sam and Diane Stewart, Jack and Mary Lois Wheatley, Stephen and Martha West, David and Bianca Lisonbee, Craig and Marilyn Faulkner.


Black women have always insisted on being artists…they’ve insisted upon it since the first slaves incorporated black designs into the making of quilts.
Michelle Wallace (Ringgold’s daughter), 1999

As a mature artist, Ringgold, who grew up in Harlem, embraced her family’s quilting tradition. In 1980, her mother pieced and quilted the first of Ringgold’s “story quilts”—narrative paintings surrounded by lush, pieced fabric borders. Subway Graffiti #3, a story quilt, was inspired by Ringgold’s trip to Japan in 1986, where she encountered crowded subways and unfamiliar graffiti-like writing. It depicts the names and faces of many of her friends and family as well as popular black luminaries like Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

Curricular Resources

The MOA has created suggested discussion prompts and assignments for BYU CIV faculty and students to use. Each assignment is based on themes that correspond with GE learning outcomes.

View Curricular Resources Related to This Work:
20th Century African American Concerns