|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Painter Howardena Pindell, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1943, had a life and art-altering experience in a 1979 car accident when she suffered severe injuries and temporary loss of memory. Prior to this shattering experience, Pindell had been a figurative artist who had moved into large abstractions, no doubt accelerated by twelve years in the curatorial department of the Museum of Modern Art. Following the accident, she went to Japan in 1980 for seven months immersing herself in the culture there. She also collected postcards depicting familiar places to help her regain her memory. She would later use these and other cards in collaged compositions.|
Upon her return to the United States, she began creating art with intense sociological content based on her life experience and black heritage. Becoming, in essence, a performance artist, Pindell created a video in 1980, "Free, White and 21," where she played both a black and a white persona hurling racial epithets at each other. She did this presentation in a white face, which was part of her expression that she often felt she was a token black woman. Pindell subsequently moved into mixed-media paintings critical of society, both contemporary and historical, in terms of race. Her "Autobiography" series combines painting, photographs, the outline of a slave ship, life-size black, white, yellow and brown bodies, and words like "assassination" and "censorship."
Some of her layered drawings are composed of thousands of small circles, created with a paper punch and then glued to painted paper. She also sews canvases together in grid-like strips and then applies a variety of materials including paint, colored dots, glitter and talcum powder. Her video drawings are made by taking a photographed image from a video screen and then overlaying the image with numbers and arrows.
The intense political content in Pindell's work has led to criticism by both conservatives and liberals, which the artist attempts to assimilate and address through personally and societally cathartic paintings.
She has been a member of the AIR women's cooperative gallery, part of Heresies, a feminist group, and active in promoting and supporting minority artists.
Howardena Pindell is one of a small number of black women artists in the second half of the 20th Century to study at highly prestigious schools and then to receive first rank jobs at these kinds of institutions. After study from 1961 to 1965, she received her B.F.A. degree, cum laude, from Boston University School of Fine and Applied Art, Massachusetts, in 1965, and her M.F.A. degree in 1967 from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. Upon graduation, she accepted a curatorial position at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, which she held until her accident in 1979. At the Museum, she rose from exhibition assistant to curatorial assistant, assistant curator, and ultimately, associate curator.
Pindell was briefly an art faculty member at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, prior to her accident, returning there as a Professor of Art since that time. She has been a visiting professor at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, since 1995, as well as a visiting instructor at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine.
Howardena Pindell's awards include a Creative Arts Fellowship, U.S./Japan Friendship Commission, 1981-82; National Endowment for the Arts grants, 1972-73; 1983-84; Boston University Alumni Award, 1983; Ariana Foundation, 1984-85; Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, 1987-88; distinguished body of work award, College Art Association, 1990; Studio Museum in Harlem Artist Award, New York, 1994; Joan Mitchell Painting Award, 1994; and Rockefeller Mentor Grant for College Art Association Conference, 1995.
Articles by and about Howardena Pindell include:
"Mandaleo Yaa Wanawake, The Progress of Women," in Feminist Art Journal, Winter 1973-74, p. 17
"Collette Omagvai, Nigerian Printmaker," in Women Studies Journal (United Kingdom), 1979
"Criticism or Between the Lines," in Heresies #8, 2(4), January 1980, pp. 2-4
"Artists' Periodicals: An Event for 1984 or page 2001," in Art Journal, 39(4), Summer 1980, pp. 282-83
"An American Black Woman in a Japanese Garden," in Heresies #15, 4(3), February 1983, 54-55
"Cultural Colonialism," in Lies of Our Times, December 1990, pp. 4-5
"Howardena Pindell/Cyrus Gallery" by Ruth Bass, in Art News, March 1990, p. 162
"Long Island Q & A: Howardena Pindell, The Subtle and Not-So-Subtle Politics Inside the Artworld" by Sandra Weber, in New York Times, 21 October 1990, Long Island section, p. 2
"Howardena Pindell: The Culture Wars Continue," in Sink, Cleveland Institute of Art, pp. 6-7.
"Some Reminiscences," in Kaleidoscope, Winter/Spring 1996, pp. 12-16.
Jules and Nancy Heller, "North American Women Artists of the 20th Century"
Charlotte Streifer Rubinstein, "American Women Artists"
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Howardena Pindell is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Black American Artists