Howardena Pendell is one of my favorite artists working today. Her work explores texture, color, and the process of making art; it is often political, addressing the intersecting issues of racism, feminism, violence, slavery, and exploitation. She is known for the wide variety of techniques and materials used in her artwork.

There is nothing quite like seeing one of Pendell’s monumental mixed media paintings in person. It is hard to capture in photographs how sumptuous and richly textural her work is.

Born in 1943, Pindell studied painting at Boston University and Yale. In 1967 she became one of the first black woman to join the curatorial staff at MoMA. During the 12 years she worked there, she continued making art, developing her own approach based on grids of punched-out circles through which she applied layers of acrylic paint to build up shimmering surfaces of color on the grid.

Since the 1960s, she has used materials such as glitter, talcum powder, and perfume to push the boundaries of the traditional canvas painting.