This Exhibition Has Ended

August 25, 2018
December 23, 2018
In the Picket Family Video Gallery

Earlier this year the exhibition film and video pioneers focused on international women artists like Ana Mendieta, Carolee Schneemann, Leticia Parente, Dara Birnbaum, Joan Jonas, and Martha Rosler whose work from the 1970s paved the way for many younger artists working in these mediums today. Now the Picket Family Video Gallery is dedicated to Howardena Pindell’s iconic video from 1980, Free, White and 21. It is an intensely personal and political work and was a stark departure from the abstract works on paper that Pindell was primarily known for. She made the film eight months after a car accident that nearly killed her and would alter the trajectory of her artmaking. It debuted as part of Dialectics of Isolation: An Exhibition of Third World Women Artists of the United States, curated by Ana Mendieta at A.I.R. Gallery in 1980. (A.I.R. Gallery was founded in 1972 in New York and was the first all-female cooperative gallery in the United States, at a time when most commercial galleries and museums showed mainly male artists.)

Speaking directly to the camera in Free, White and 21, Pindell recounts her experiences of racism and sexism—and then shifts to play the role of a white woman who claims that Pindell is paranoid and ungrateful. Critiquing both institutionalized racism and the lack of intersectionality in the mostly white women’s movement at the time, Pindell wrote in her artist statement for A.I.R. Gallery: “As a Black American woman, I draw on my experience as I have lived it and not as others wish to perceive my living it as fictionalized in the media and so-called ‘history’ books.”


This exhibition was curated by Andrea Inselmann, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Johnson, and supported in part by the Joel and Joan Picket Exhibition Endowment.