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Historic Exhibition of Black Abstract Artists on Display at Zuccaire Gallery

51 zuccaire gallery

“Revisiting 5+1” Honors Professor Howardena Pindell on Her Retirement

A new exhibition at the Staller Center’s Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery, entitled “Revisiting 5+1,” examines a critical moment at the junction of abstract art, racial and gender politics, and student activism at Stony Brook University. The exhibition is a reflection on the historic 1969 exhibition of abstract art “5+1,” presenting works by the original artists alongside a new selection of major works by Black women working in abstraction.

51 zuccaire gallery
“5+1” exhibition opening, 1969. Photograph by Adger Cowans. © Adger Cowans; courtesy of Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York, NY

“Revisiting 5+1” features work by the six artists in the 1969 exhibition (curated by and including artist Frank Bowling) each of whom created vivid experimental abstract paintings and sculptures. Alongside Bowling, the show presents major work by Melvin Edwards, Daniel LaRue Johnson, Al Loving, Jack Whitten and William T. Williams, showcasing their early practices of the 1960s and 1970s. In collaboration with Distinguished Professor of Art Howardena Pindell, “Revisiting 5+1″ adds a related yet distinct group of six Black women artists, who were also trailblazers in abstraction. Alongside Pindell, the exhibition features works by Vivian Browne, Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Betye Saar, Alma Thomas and Mildred Thompson, including a never before shown 1971 film by Saar.

“Revisiting 5+1” provides new insight into the significance of the dynamic university context, demonstrating the important history of university-based exhibitions organized by Black artists. At a time when Black artists working in abstraction encountered barriers in both the White mainstream art world, which valued works in abstraction but not those by Black artists, and the Black Arts Movement, which rejected abstract art as apolitical, university galleries provided a unique platform outside the confines of the mainstream art world for engaging with ongoing debates around the relation between art and racial politics.

Honoring Howardena Pindell on Her Retirement

Howardena Pindell
Howardena Pindell

This exhibition honors Howardena Pindell’s four decades of working with art students at Stony Brook University on the occasion of her retirement from teaching. The artistic excellence and social activism that mark her own career have also informed her teaching, setting an example for students and faculty alike. Colleague Katy Siegel says of Pindell’s tenure, “The university has been extraordinarily fortunate to have Howardena’s brilliant presence over the years; she has brought in peers including Maren Hassinger and Kay WalkingStick, and taught generations of younger artists like Athena LaTocha with extraordinary generosity.” After the current academic year, Pindell will become a Toll Professor, leaving full-time teaching but remaining a student mentor.

Gallery Hours

The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 12 pm to 4 pm and evenings of Staller Center performances and films. Email to schedule a visit outside of regular hours.

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