Howardena Pindell; "Rope/Fire/Water" Favorite 



Oct 16 2020


New York City

Howardena Pindell presented her solo exhibition, “Rope/Fire/Water”, her first video in 25 years and a project utilized by the artist since the 1970s that The Shed commissioned and displayed in late 2020 and into early 2021. “Rope/Fire/Water” mines the history of violence against African-Americans and features Pindell’s personal anecdotes and anthropological and historical data related to lynchings and racist attacks in the United States. She accompanies this voice-over with archival photos of lynchings and the historic Birmingham, Alabama, Children’s Crusade, a series of nonviolent protests carried out by young people in May 1963. Throughout the video a metronome ticks, suggesting that when it comes to combating racism, we are working against the clock.

Throughout Pindell’s extensive 60-year career, she has created richly textured abstract paintings while engaging with politics and social issues of her time. The Rope/Fire/Water exhibition at The Shed debuts five new paintings, two of which are a pair of large-scale paintings related to global atrocities of imperialism and white supremacy. 10 older paintings are included, as well as a piece that has never been displayed publicly. The abstract paintings demonstrate a through line in Pindell’s practice: after working on traumatic historical objects, the artists decompresses by creating meticulously produced, large-scale abstract works on unstretched canvas.

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How does this project help?

Timeframe For change


"Rope/Fire/Water" was featured at The Shed, a popular museum in New York City, allowing a larger audience to view it. The impact it had on consumers to change their behavior is not known.