March 11, 2021
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 her position at the VMFA, she was Senior Curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston where she worked from 2000 – 2017. In 2000, she was one of six curators selected to organize the Biennial for the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her 2018 debut exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was a 50-year survey of work by Howardena Pindell entitled Howardena Pindell: What Remains to be Seen. The exhibition co-organized with Naomi Beckwith, the Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, was named one of the most influential of the decade.
Born in Philadelphia in 1943, Howardena Pindell studied painting at Boston University and Yale University. The artist often employs lengthy, metaphorical processes of destruction/reconstruction in her work. She cuts canvases in strips and sews them back together, building up surfaces in elaborate stages. 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 is a full professor at State University of New York, Stony Brook. Throughout her career, she has exhibited extensively with notable solo exhibitions at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and The Shed, New York; among many others. 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).
Pictured at top: Night Flight. 2015–16. Mixed media on canvas. 63 × 77 inches.