Her body of work is an everything

Do yourself a favor. (Yesterday, I did myself a favor.) Stand in front of a large painting by Howardena Pindell, perhaps “Dutch Wives” or “Memory: Future” or “Tarot: Hanged Man.” Are you there? Good. Now spread your legs a bit so they are even with your shoulders. Claim space. Take up space. (Don’t worry about it—it’s OK to spend so much space and time with a work of art even if museums don’t get that, or the people around you are confused by it.) Now, find a place on her stitched-together canvases and stare at it, but softly, let your eyes find a wideness, like when you stare out at a large lake or the sea. Now, slowly begin to sway, transferring your weight from one leg to the other. Watch the painting come to life for a second time (the first was as you approached it, even though it was there all along, doing its thing, living), the glitter glimmering and glistening, glowing because she put it there, put it there for you, for us. And it’s OK to smile, too, glow even. (In another room you will encounter darkness and confront the violence against dark bodies, but this is not a dichotomy, her body of work is an everything.) But perhaps you aren’t like me, and such swaying and glowing is not for you. Is the guard looking? No? Put your nose close to the painting and tell me if you can smell perfumes—she left those there for you, for us, too.