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Faculty Artist Spotlight: Howardena Pindell

October 4-30, 2021

Howardena Pindell



HOWARDENA PINDELL is an internationally-acclaimed artist and Distinguished Professor of Art at Stony Brook University, where she has taught since 1979. The Zuccaire Gallery is proud to present our first Faculty Artist Spotlight featuring two of Pindell's paintings as part of the Presidential Inauguration celebration of Stony Brook University's President Maurie McInnis.

Pindell's powerful work has been exhibited extensively, including a recent major museum solo traveling exhibition entitled Howardena Pindell: What Remains to be Seen. Pindell often employs lengthy, metaphorical processes of destruction/reconstruction. She cuts canvases in strips and sews them back together, building up surfaces in elaborate stages. She paints or draws on sheets of paper, punches out dots from the paper using a paper hole punch, drops the dots onto her canvas, and finally squeegees paint through the “stencil” left in the paper from which she had punched the dots. The artist’s fascination with gridded, serialized imagery, along with surface texture appears throughout her oeuvre. Even in her later, more politically charged work, Pindell reverts to these thematic focuses in order to address social issues of homelessness, AIDs, war, genocide, sexism, xenophobia, and apartheid.

Pindell’s work has been featured in many landmark museum exhibitions, such as: Contemporary Black Artists in America (1971, Whitney Museum of American Art), Rooms (1976, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center), Another Generation (1979, The Studio Museum in Harlem), Afro-American Abstraction (1980, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center), The Decade Show: Frameworks of Identity in the 1980s (1990, New Museum of Contemporary Art), and Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African-American Women Artists (1996, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta).

Most recently, Pindell’s work appeared in: Energy/Experimentation: Black Artists and Abstraction, 1964–1980 (2006, The Studio Museum in Harlem), High Times, Hard Times: New York Painting, 1967–1975 (2006, Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Greensboro), WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution (2007, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles), Target Practice: Painting Under Attack, 1949–1978 (2009, Seattle Art Museum), Black in the Abstract: Part I, Epistrophy (2013, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston), and Painting 2.0: Expression in the Information Age, (2015–2016, Museum Brandhorst; 2016, Museum Moderner Kunst) and We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–1985 (2017, the Brooklyn Museum, New York). Howardena Pindell was the subject of the 2018 retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago titled Howardena Pindell: What Remains to Be Seen, which traveled to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (2018) and the Rose Art Museum (2019). 

Howardena Pindell received an MFA from Yale University’s School of Art and Architecture in 1967 and a BFA in Painting from Boston University’s School of Fine and Applied Arts in 1965. She has two Honorary Doctorates, one from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston Massachusetts and one from Parson School of Design/The New School University, New York She worked for 12 years at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and was an Associate Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books. She was a visiting Professor of Art at Yale University’s School of Art from 1995 to 1999. 

Pindell  has received numerous grants and awards including the Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, a Joan Mitchell Grant, a Studio Museum in Harlem Artist Award as well as the College Art Association’s 2019 Distinguished Artist Award for Lifetime Achievement. Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Yale Art Museum, New Haven, The Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, The Rhode Island School of Art Museum among many others. A book of her writings ” The Heart of the Question,” was published in 1997 by Midmarch Arts Press, New York.

For full biography, please visit Garth Greenan Gallery.

Image: Howardena Pindell, Mother: Umbra Penumbra, 1997, mixed media on canvas, 51 x 95 ½ inches. Courtesy the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.

Faculty Artist Spotlight: Howardena Pindell is curated by Karen Levitov, Director and Curator of the Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery, and supported by Stony Brook University's Office of the President.

The Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery is located on the first floor of the Staller Center for the Arts. Admission is free. Face coverings are required in all Stony Brook University campus buildings.