A New Language
Artist, activist, writer, and teacher Howardena Pindell has been a force in contemporary art since the late 1960s. This book is a celebration and critical examination of her painting and writing and marks her first solo exhibition in the UK. It takes its title – and its cue – from her: ‘I am an artist. I am not part of a so-called “minority”, “new” or “emerging” or “a new audience”. These are all terms used to demean, limit, and make people of color appear to be powerless. We must evolve a new language which empowers us and does not cause us to participate in our own disenfranchisement.’
With illustrations of a selection of paintings from the 1970s to now; new writing from Anna Lovatt of the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Amy Tobin of the University of Cambridge, and Adeze Wilford from The Shed in New York; and a selection of Pindell’s own writing, this book presents Pindell’s inspiring and unflinchingly active imagination, and explores her articulation of a ‘new language’ as exemplary in articulating empowerment.
Howardena Pindell (b.1943, Philadelphia, PA) works across painting and film. She is an activist, critic and teacher who spent over a decade working at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, as one of the institution’s first Black curators. Largely known for her monumentally scaled abstract canvases, Pindell has expanded the definition of what abstract painting can be through her inclusion of glitter, paper circles made from punched holes, and the layering of mixed media and scent. She rose to prominence through the late 1970s and early 1980s and had a major solo exhibition at the Studio Museum, Harlem in 1986.
Throughout her career, Pindell has exhibited extensively. Notable solo and group exhibitions include: the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Whitney Museum of American Art; PS1, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Museum Brandhorst, Munich. In 2020, an exhibition of new work at The Shed, New York articulated Pindell’s response to racism and white supremacy against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement and growing international outrage at anti-Black state violence in the US and elsewhere, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.