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Howardena Pindell, Carnival: Rio Samba School, Brazil, 2017–18. Courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York.

Howardena Pindell Receives Artists’ Legacy Foundation’s $25,000 Artist Award

The Artists’ Legacy Foundation in Oakland, California, announced that Howardena Pindell has won its 2019 Artist Award, a $25,000 prize that is given annually to a painter or sculptor who has made significant contributions to their field. Represented by Garth Greenan Gallery in New York, Pindell, a Philadelphia-born, African American artist who has been underrecognized for much of her five-decade career, creates abstract works on paper, constructed out of hundreds of numbered dots; paintings that examine topics such as racism and feminism; drawings; photographs; and video works.

Over the years, Pindell has been a pioneer in the art world in myriad ways. She was the first black curator to work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and a cofounder of A.I.R. Gallery, a New York arts space focused on female artists that opened in 1972. She has also been an educator at Stony Brook University for more than forty years and is a prolific writer. Commenting on her achievements, T.J. Dedeaux-Norris, a member of the prize jury—which also comprised artists Greg Colson and Melissa Meyer—said: “Pindell’s visual work, writing, institutional critique, and service to others are admirable and truly a lesson in authenticity and rigor for younger careered artists. I’m filled with unquantifiable joy knowing I played a small part in acknowledging a more than deserving artist whose work has influenced me profoundly.”

In the February 2018 issue of Artforum, Pindell spoke about her long-overdue retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, her creative process, and the art world’s systemic racism. “I am infinitely grateful that I have survived exclusion, and yet I’m aware of many artists of color, queer artists, and/or women artists of my generation who did really good work that you just don’t hear about anymore,” she said. Commenting on her practice, she remarked: “So, so much of my work now comes from the sheer joy that I am able to do it. . . . In my early paintings, I restrained myself with formal challenges; I wouldn’t disclose the ideas that I was working from. Now, my paintings are my color, what I see in color, and what I hope to do with color.”