Howardena Pindell: Reclaiming Abstraction
Howardena Pindell: Reclaiming Abstraction is a fascinating examination of the multifaceted career of artist, activist, curator, and writer Howardena Pindell (b. 1943). It offers a fresh perspective on her abstract practice from the late 1960s through the early 1980s—a period in which debates about Black Power, feminism, and modernist abstraction intersected in uniquely contentious yet generative ways. Sarah Louise Cowan not only asserts Pindell’s rightful place within the canon but also recenters dominant historical narratives to reveal the profound and overlooked roles that Black women artists have played in shaping modernist abstraction. Pindell’s career acts as a springboard for a broader study of how artists have responded during periods of heightened social activism and used abstraction to convey political urgency. With works that drew on Ghanaian textiles, administrative labor, cosmetics, and postminimalism, Pindell deployed abstraction in deeply personal ways that resonated with collective African diasporic and women’s practices. In her groundbreaking analysis, Cowan argues that such work advanced Black feminist modernisms, diverse creative practices that unsettle racist and sexist logics.
Sarah Louise Cowan, Howardena Pindell: Reclaiming Abstraction (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2022).