Artist and author Faith Ringgold's 1991 picture book, Tar Beach (A Caldecott Honor Book), is illustrated with the image of a story quilt with the same title, which she created in 1988. Tar Beach narrates the dream of young Cassie Louise Lightfoot, to be free to go wherever she wants to go and to do whatever she wants to do. While lying one night on "tar beach" - the rooftop of the apartment building in which her family lives, Cassie's dream comes true. The stars lift her up and she is free to fly.


Tar Beach,1988                                Tar Beach 2, 1990

In 1990, Ringgold created another story quilt titled Tar Beach 2 . While similar in form, style and content, there are noticeable differences between the images. Each image allows the viewer to explore Cassie's dream in a slightly different way. What are the differences you notice between the two images? Why do you think Ringgold incorporated new elements into Tar Beach 2 ?

The following sets of exercises will guide you through a detailed exploration of Tar Beach 2. After viewing a full screen version of the story quilt and the hi-res version with readible text, you will be able to use your cursor to explore the visual elements that Ringgold has utilized in the construction of Tar Beach 2.

Guiding questions about the Formal Elements of the quilt's construction will appear over a green background.
Guiding questions about the Context in which Tar Beach 2 was created will appear over a purple background.
Guiding questions about the Content of the image will appear over a yellow background.

The guiding questions are numbered in order to facilitate your exploration of the image. A downloadable pdf version of the entire set of questions along with other useful resources, including a link to Faith Ringgold's website, is available on the resources page.

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