December 30, 2021
As the city moves to close jails on Rikers Island, the agency is planning to relocate the Faith Ringgold painting “For the Women’s House” to a permanent home
NEW YORK — First Lady Chirlane McCray and the Department of Correction (DOC) today announced that For the Women’s House, an iconic painting by celebrated artist Faith Ringgold is expected to be moved out of the Rose M. Singer Center (RMSC) on Rikers Island to the Brooklyn Museum, subject to review by the NYC Public Design Commission.
“The history of New York City's success is very much about how women contributed in every aspect of the city’s development. But too many of those stories remain untold, particularly for women of color whose achievements were literally erased from history books,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “This Administration has made it a priority to showcase unseen and unheralded artworks that give us another perspective on the important issues of our time. I’m proud that this historic painting will be preserved at the Brooklyn Museum where children can see it and know that they too can create works of art that ignite change, expand awareness and fire the imagination.”
The mural was dedicated to the women at the Correctional Institution for Women on Rikers Island in January 1972. When men began to be housed at the facility in 1988, the painting was whitewashed before it was saved by an officer. The piece was then restored and relocated to the new women’s facility, the RMSC or “Rosie’s,” where it remains on display.
“While we rightly move off Rikers, there is much history to remember and reflect upon,” said DOC Commissioner Vincent Schiraldi. “Bringing this piece into public view is an important part of learning and growing from this history. We thank Faith Ringgold who dedicated her talents to offer a bit of beauty in an otherwise difficult place.”
The Administration has advanced several progressive initiatives including: Catalyst Art and Social Justice, the largest ever art exhibition at Gracie Mansion to examine art and social justice through over 75 works by more than 50 artists and activists since the 1960s, and SheBuilt NYC, an effort to create monuments and other public art honoring women. CreateNYC, the City’s first-ever roadmap for cultural investment and equality, has increased equitable funding and support for culture, especially in historically underserved neighborhoods, and provided high-quality arts education for all NYC public school students.
Incorporating suggestions given to Ringgold by incarcerated women, For the Women’s House depicts the first female president, professional women basketball players and other positive female role models. The piece is expected to be added to the Ringgold collection at the Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum to ensure it is accessible to the public.
In order to replace the artwork, and to promote beauty and healing within the jails, the Art for Justice Fund has kindly offered to fund the creation of a new community mural in RMSC in the space vacated by Ms. Ringgold’s work.
“I'm looking forward to the people finally getting a chance to see my painting, For the Women’s House, at the Brooklyn Museum,” said Faith Ringgold.
"The Brooklyn Museum is thrilled to have one of Faith Ringgold's most iconic paintings return to our care,” said Anne Pasternak, director of the Brooklyn Museum of Art. “We are excited to share it with millions of people locally and around the globe and engage them in dialogues about this groundbreaking artist's work and themes of mass incarceration, women's equality, the artistic movements of the 1970s and more."
“I am pleased to know that Faith Ringgold’s important painting will be moved to a permanent home with the Brooklyn Museum of Art, at the artist’s request,” said Agnes Gund, founder of the Art for Justice Fund. “It is my fervent hope we will all see Rikers Island shuttered, and everyone incarcerated and working there soon relocated to a safer and more positive environment.”