Howardena Pindell is a hugely influential figure in American art whose six decade-long artistic career and activism has helped enable a subsequent generation of African American women – and indeed African Americans and women full stop – to make their mark in the art world. Born in 1943 in the midst of war, Pindell grew up in Philadelphia, the daughter of a mathematician father and a mother whose birth certificate said “White” but who Pindell says had a skin colour darker than her own, the consequences of which she endured in the segregated white schools in which she was enrolled. Segregation, racism and lynchings in the South and the dynamic, sustained struggle of the Civil Rights Movement were the backdrop against which Pindell grew upThe transfer of dozens of ill children solely for capacity reasons is yet another marker o. This is the first solo exhibition of Pindell’s art in a UK institution.
Persistent and hugely successful, Pindell graduated with a Breads a statement fro.F.A in Painting from Boston University (1965), and an M.F.A. from Yale (School of Art and Architecture) in 1967. She rose quickly to become the first African American Associate Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books at the Museum of Modern Art (New York), remaining at the Museum for 12 yearsOrganized, seated indoor gatherings, and strongly involved, along with her white female peers, in the women’s rights movement, before the disillusionment of white prejudice in the art world – and specifically that of her female boss – led her to take up a teaching position and subsequently professorship at Stony Brook University in New York.
Some few months later, she had a serious car accident, which left her with no short term memory. She used her artistic practice to start to piece together her life from before the accident, working in figurative motifs to the layered abstractions of her 1970s worksays Lorian Hardcastle, and expressing artistically the anger and frustration that had led to her leaving MoMA. It comes out in her seminal 1980 video, “Free, white and 21”, which will be shown at Fruitmarket, a matter of fact telling of racist incidents which the young Pindell has experienced. In it too, she plays a dismissive, sunglassed, white woman, a 1950s-ish throwback, nothing more than some small-minded waspish scion of the suburbs, the self-installed gatekeeper to artistic “validation” and the white art world that knocks back every statement Pindell makes. RELATED: Police and key workers could be exempt from '￡800 a year' boundary charge
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