An eminent civil rights activist, Faith Ringgold’s oeuvre is driven by an intense political agenda. Unlike the overt violence which characterises other works from her iconic American People Series, Ringgold addresses the tense race relations of 1960s America through the innocence of childhood in Hide Little Children.
Depicted with vibrant, angular brushstrokes, the painting captures three children, three white and two black, concealed amongst a dense forest as if playing hide-and-seek. In her memoirs We Flew over the Bridge (1995), Ringgold explains ‘This painting was inspired by my own children and the fears I had about their friendships with white children with whom they socialised in and out of school. New Lincoln School had a reputation for being ultra-liberal, but what about the parents? What kind of reputation did they have?’ (p. 154). The children’s eyes, bright amongst the foliage, stare out directly towards the viewer, symbolising the importance of ‘witnessing’ in a time of ignorance and complicity.