Howardena Pindell is in conversation with Naomi Beckwith and Valerie Cassel Oliver, co-curators of What Remains to be Seen. The exhibition is the first major survey of the Pindell’s work and opens at MCA Chicago in 2018 and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 2019.
Howardena Pindell, born in Philadelphia in 1943, studied painting at Boston University and Yale University. After graduating, she accepted a job in the Department of Prints and Illustrated Books at the Museum of Modern Art, where she remained for 12 years (1967–1979). In 1979, she began teaching at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, where she is now a full professor. Her work has also 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, New York), Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African-American Women Artists (1996, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta), 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), and Black in the Abstract: Part I, Epistrophy (2013, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston).
Currently, major paintings by Pindell are included in the Brooklyn Museum’s We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–1985 (now at the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, 2017–2018; traveling to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, 2018), the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art's Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction (now at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., 2017–2018; traveling to Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida, 2018), the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Delirious: Art at the Limits of Reason, 1950–1980 (2017–2018, New York), and the Tate Modern's Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power (2017, London; traveling to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, 2018; Brooklyn Museum, 2018–2019). Her work will also figure prominently in Lynne Cooke’s Outliers and American Vanguard Art, opening at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., in January 2018.
Pindell’s work is in the permanent collections of major museums internationally, including the Fogg Museum, Harvard University; the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Modern Art; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Princeton University Art Museum; the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University; The Studio Museum in Harlem; the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; the Wadsworth Atheneum; the Walker Art Center; and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Naomi Beckwith is the Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Prior to joining the MCA, Beckwith was a fellow at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, working on numerous cutting-edge exhibitions including Locally Localized Gravity (2007), which was an exhibition and program of events featuring over 100 artists whose practices are social, participatory, and communal. Beckwith was previously the Associate Curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem, where she focused on themes of identity and conceptual practices in contemporary art and artists of African descent, as well as managed the Artists-in-Residence program. Beckwith has curated key exhibitions such as 30 Seconds off an Inch at The Studio Museum in Harlem (2009–10), exhibiting work by 42 artists of color or those inspired by black culture. She holds an MA with Distinction from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, completing her Master’s thesis on Adrian Piper and Carrie Mae Weems, and was a Critical Studies Fellow at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program.
Valerie Cassel Oliver
Valerie Cassel Oliver is the Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Prior to this position, she spent sixteen years at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas, where she was senior curator. She was director of the Visiting Artist Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a program specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2000, she was one of six curators selected to organize the Biennial for the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Cassel Oliver has organized numerous exhibitions including the acclaimed Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art Since 1970 (2005); Cinema Remixed and Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image with Dr. Andrea Barnwell Brownlee (2009); Hand + Made: The Performative Impulse in Art and Craft (2010); and Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, (2012), which toured through 2015. Cassel Oliver has also organized numerous solo exhibitions including a major retrospective on Benjamin Patterson, Born in the State of Flux/us, (2010) as well as the surveys Donald Moffett: The Extravagant Vein (2011); Jennie C. Jones: Compilation (2015); Angel Otero: Everything and Nothing (2016) and most recently,Annabeth Rosen: Fired, Broken, Gathered, Heaped (2017).