"JOY!": FIRST EDITION OF ARTIST FAITH RINGGOLD'S AUNT HARRIET'S UNDERGROUND RAILROAD IN THE SKY, 1992, BEAUTIFULLY ILLUSTRATED BY HER, AN EXCEPTIONAL ASSOCIATION COPY WARMLY INSCRIBED IN THE YEAR OF PUBLICATION BY MAYA ANGELOU
(ANGELOU, Maya) RINGGOLD, Faith. Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky. New York: Crown, (1992). Tall quarto, original pictorial laminated paper boards. $950.
First edition of the renowned artist's second children's book—"a unique and creative vision"—an especially memorable association copy wonderfully inscribed in the year of publication by Maya Angelou, "B—J— Joy! Maya Angelou 11/19/92." Oprah Winfrey notably commissioned Ringgold's 1989 story quilt, Maya's Quilt of Life, as a birthday gift for Angelou, who was a passionate collector of Ringgold's art.
Pioneering African American artist Faith Ringgold "is best known for her richly referential, painted story quilts" (Art Newspaper). In 1991 Ringgold published her first book, Tar Beach, which was inspired by her 1988 story quilt of the same title. Here, in Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad, Ringgold continues the story of Cassie Lightfoot, who has time-traveled and is trapped in the antebellum South. Cassie is guided to freedom by Harriet Tubman, who tells Cassie "about slavery (as represented in five powerful paintings) and what it would be like to make the perilous journey to freedom. Cassie is shown following the trail, taking refuge in an attic, looking for such signals as 'a star quilt flung on the roof,' hiding in a coffin, and finally flying over Niagara Falls to Canada." Ringgold's lyrical and moving narrative, and "robust, authoritative paintings are splendid. Among many memorable images are dark, crowded rows of barely suggested faces on a slave ship… and Cassie triumphant above thundering falls, painted in broad, free strokes. A unique and creative vision" (Kirkus).
"Whether on canvas, paneled quilts or in children's books, Ringgold is a storyteller… all contribute to her grander enterprise, in which narrative is deployed as a powerful force, taking back histories and suggesting alternatives to the status quo" (Guardian). First edition, first printing: issued simultaneously in pictorial laminated boards (this copy), and in a library binding. Without scarce dust jacket. This very memorable association copy, inscribed by Maya Angelou, speaks to her embrace of Ringgold's work and legacy. Angelou, who died in 2014, was a passionate collector of Ringgold's art, and Oprah Winfrey commissioned Ringgold's famed 1989 story quilt, Maya's Quilt of Life, as a birthday gift for Angelou: the work features text from her writings, including an excerpt from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. While unconfirmed, Angelou's inscription is likely to the award-winning fashion designer Brett Johnson, who was also an executive producer of director Lee Daniels' 2013 film, The Butler, which featured Oprah Winfrey.
A fine copy.