Mending Abstraction: Howardena Pindell’s Nonrepresentational Black Feminisms, 1967-1986


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


History of Art


This project considers the multimedia artworks that US artist Howardena Pindell produced between 1967 and 1986, arguing that in these years she developed black feminist approaches to abstraction. The analysis focuses on the ways in which her works bring together disparate art world conversations and thematize the artist’s bodily labor. With these artistic strategies, Pindell’s art defied the expectation endemic to modernist criticism and discourses of the black arts and feminist art movements that her social identity as a black woman predetermined her aesthetic potential. Moreover, this study shows how Pindell’s abstract artworks complicate supposed antinomies of late twentieth-century art, such as those posited between modernist painting and craft-based textiles. By attending especially to important interactions between black feminist cultural traditions and modernist abstraction, it animates a site of inquiry that has been obscured by enduring disciplinary silos.