Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Faith Ringgold

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(Created page with "==Pickens Museum Opens New Exhibition== To celebrate Black History Month and to honor the memory of Dr. S. J. Pickens, Pickens Museum has opened a new exhibition in the atrium...")

Revision as of 10:14, 5 February 2020


Pickens Museum Opens New Exhibition

To celebrate Black History Month and to honor the memory of Dr. S. J. Pickens, Pickens Museum has opened a new exhibition in the atrium of City Central at 400 E Central in Ponca City titled "Letter from a Brimingham Jail" which includes eight seriagraphs by Faith Ringgold that depict the history of the Civil Rights Movement. The exhibition will be on display during February, 2020. There is no admission charge. "This is a opportunity for citizens of Ponca City to view art that are superlative accompaniments to Dr. King's stirring text," says Hugh Pickens, Executive Director of Pickens Museum. "The subjects and scenes that fill Ringgold’s compositions are inspired by the American experience. The themes are universal: inequality and the struggle for its eradication that should inspire us all."

The public viewed the prints for the first time in 2008 at a reception honoring Ringgold at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Ringgold’s art has been exhib-ited in major museums around the world and is in the perma-nent collections of the Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, and Boston Museum of Fine Art

The exhibition honors the memory of Ponca City resident Dr. S. J. Pickens who was active in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Dr. Pickens traveled to Alabama with freedom riders in 1963 to help register black residents to vote and to integrate lunch counters. Dr. Pickens marched with King in Alabama and attended Dr. King's March on Washington. She said that she never thought she would live to see a black President but forty-five years after the March on Washington Dr. Pickens traveled to Washington DC with her husband to attend Barack Obama's inauguration on the National Mall in Washington DC.

Faith Ringgold

Ringgold was born in Harlem in 1930. Her family included educators and creatives, and she grew up surrounded by the Harlem Renaissance. The street where she was raised was also home to influential activists, writers, and artists of the era—Thurgood Marshall, W.E.B. Dubois, and Aaron Douglas, to name a few. “It’s nice to come up in a period where great changes are being made,” she once said. “And that was my period: the ’30s to the ’60s, when radical changes were being made.”

Ringgold received her art education at City College, down the street from her childhood home. “I got a fabulous education in art—wonderful teachers who taught me everything except anything about African art or African American art. But I traveled and took care of that part myself,” she’s said. After graduating, she began her career painting landscapes and still-lifes in the style of modern European masters. But her practice quickly pivoted to focus on her own experience and the political and social tensions that surrounded her, namely the struggle for equality among women and the black community.

Throughout her career, Ringgold’s work has been driven by the challenges and fulfillments of her life and the lives of those around her. “First of all, you should never make something, as an artist or even as a writer, that is outside of your experience,” she once said. “People will use what is available to them. I am black and I am a woman. There it is.”

In 1963, as the fight for racial justice animated the Civil Rights movement, Ringgold began her seminal “American People Series.” It was the artist’s first body of work to manifest her mature style—one that fused the forms and techniques of folk art with content inspired by the most vocal social critics of her time, such as the writers James Baldwin and Amiri Baraka. In an early painting from the series, The American People Series #1: Between Friends (1963), two women, one black and one white, stand close but seem to stare through each other. A red divider cuts through the center of the composition, bifurcating the two women and emphasizing their distinct experiences and, perhaps, their inability to understand one another.

The ’60s also gave birth to Ringgold’s role as an activist. In 1968, she organized a demonstration protesting the omission of black artists in a Whitney Museum show highlighting American sculptors of the ’30s. Two years later, she was on the front lines of another demonstration at the Whitney—this time protesting the woeful dearth of female artists across the museum’s exhibition program. The demonstrators brandished police whistles, feminine products, and eggs: “I boiled mine, painted them black, and wrote 50 percent on them [to indicate the percentage of women who should be included in shows],” Ringgold said. “It felt like we were doing something and were a part of the movement in America to equalize things.”

Ringgold passionately combines a deep commitment to social activism with a style that draws from folk art and modernist painting. Across her body of work, paintings and sculptures lay bare the discrimination that plagues our world and double as rallying cries for urgent change. “You can’t sit around waiting for somebody else to say who you are. You need to write it and paint it and do it,” she once said. “That’s the power of being an artist.”

Dr. S. J. Pickens was Freedom Rider

Before she went to Alabama in 1963, where she was assaulted for desegregating lunch counters, her father told her never to flinch when she was struck by segregationists and to turn the other cheek when she was beaten. Before she left for the South, her father made her commit to memory the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley which was her favorite poem and sums up her life.

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

The exhibition will be on display at Pickens Museum thorugh February.

About the Author

Hugh and Dr. S. J. Pickens
Dr. Pickens married Hugh Pickens on December 24, 1984 with whom she recently celebrated 32 years of marriage.

Hugh Pickens (Po-Hi '67) is a physicist who has explored for oil in the Amazon jungle, commissioned microwave communications systems across the empty quarter of Saudi Arabia, and built satellite control stations for Goddard Space Flight Center in Australia, Antarctica, Guam, and other locations around the world. Retired in 1999, Pickens and his wife of 33 years moved from Baltimore back to his hometown of Ponca City, Oklahoma in 2005 where he cultivates his square foot garden, mows seven acres of lawn, writes about local history, photographs events at the Poncan Theatre, produces the annual Oklahoma Pride series with his wife at Ponca Playhouse, and recently sponsored the first formal dinner in the Marland Mansion in 75 years. Pickens is presently in the process of planning the construction of an Art Museum in Northern Oklahoma. Pickens can be contacted at hughpickens@gmail.com.

Pickens' Publishing

In 1996, Pickens edited and published My Life In Review: Have I Been Lucky of What?, the memoirs of Jack Crandall, professor of history at SUNY Brockport. Since 2001 Pickens has edited and published “Peace Corps Online,” serving over one million monthly pageviews. Pickens' other writing includes contributing over 2,000 stories to “Slashdot: News for Nerds,” and articles for Wikipedia, and “Ponca City, We Love You”. Pickens has written the following articles available on his wiki at Research and Ideas.



Science and Technology

Business and Investing

Ponca City, Oklahoma

Pickens Museum


Peace Corps Writing


Phillips 66

Conoco and Phillips 66 announced on November 18, 2001 that their boards of directors had unanimously approved a definitive agreement for a "merger of equals". The merged company, ConocoPhillips, became the third-largest integrated U.S. energy company based on market capitalization and oil and gas reserves and production. On November 11, 2011 ConocoPhillips announced that Phillips 66 would be the name of a new independent oil and gasoline refining and marketing firm, created as ConocoPhillips split into two companies. ConocoPhillips kept the current name of the company and concentrated on oil exploration and production side while Phillips 66 included refining, marketing, midstream, and chemical portions of the company. Photo: Hugh Pickens all rights reserved.

For nearly 100 years oil refining has provided the bedrock of Ponca City's local economy and shaped the character of our community. Today the Ponca City Refinery is the best run and most profitable of Phillips 66's fifteen worldwide refineries. The purpose of this collection of reports is to provide a comprehensive overview of Phillips 66's business that documents and explains the company's business strategy and execution of that strategy.

Safety, Environment, Legal


Strategic and Financial

Business Segments

Stock Market


Refining Business Segment

Increasing Profitability in Refining Business Segment

Detailed Look at Ponca City Refinery

Other Phillips Refineries

Other Locations

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Doctor Pickens Museum of Turquoise Jewelry

Click here to join the Facebook Group for Doctor Pickens Museum of Turquoise Jewelry.

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