This solo exhibition, nearly four years in the making, features new work by Pindell (American, b. 1943) examining the violent, historical trauma of racism in America and the therapeutic power of art. The show includes her first video work in 25 years as well as new large-scale paintings and several abstract paintings from earlier in her career.
The video, Rope/Fire/Water, is a project the artist has been thinking about since the 1970s. It takes inspiration from a remarkable story of her childhood.
“As a child, I was visiting a friend whose mother was cooking dinner consisting of cooking meat. On their living room table they had a recent issue of Life magazine,” Pindell recalls. “In it there was a picture of an African-American man who was lying on his back on a log, who was burning from the inside out. White men surrounded the gruesome scene bubbling over with self-congratulatory smiles seeing what they had done. The smell of the meat cooking made it impossible for me to eat, and I could not eat meat for about a year.”
In the 19-minute video, Pindell recounts narratives and anthropological and historical data related to lynchings and racist attacks in the United States. Accompanying Pindell’s voiceover are brutal archival photos of lynchings and the Children’s Crusade of nonviolent protests by young people in Birmingham, Alabama, in May 1963.
The show also has Pindell debuting a pair of large-scale black paintings, companion pieces to Rope/Fire/Water, that are related to global atrocities of imperialism and white supremacy. Columbus (2020) is accompanied by gruesomely lifelike silicone hands displayed on the ground. Four Little Girls (Birmingham, Alabama, 1963) (2019–20) explores the destruction of Black prosperity, with burned objects referencing the razing of the Black communities of Tulsa and Rosewood, as well as the 1963 Birmingham Baptist Church bombing that killed four girls.
— Chadd Scott