“When I’m writing but can’t quite put my finger on what I’m after, I often turn to a visual artist whose commitments and practices resonate with my own art—a kind of guiding light, someone whose work is different in clear ways from mine but who nevertheless asks similar questions. This can be a way of filling the creative tank, but also a way to remind myself of the experience I’m trying to create when otherwise lost in the weeds.
Recently that artist has been Howardena Pindell, whose work brings together the representational and abstract through texture. The cover of my new book features a piece from her Video Drawings series, in which she draws force vectors on transparencies over television stills. In her most famous work, the video Free, White and 21, Pindell ventriloquizes the racism directed at her in the art world through an avatar whose whiteness is blurred by the stocking she pulls over her face. And in my favorite of hers, a series of untitled works from the seventies, Pindell layers thick acrylic paint and tiny hole punches, sometimes minutely numbered, on huge unstretched canvas. The play with scale keeps the intensity of Pindell’s intricate making front and center as you approach (or zoom into) the canvases. I feel a deep emotion diffused through these pieces, and I often return to my own work more capable of wielding that depth.”
—S. Brook Corfman, author of My Daily Actions, or the Meteorites (Fordham University Press, 2020)