Born and raised in Philadelphia, Howardena Pindell's interest in art developed at an early age. As a child, she began taking figure painting classes each Saturday and eventually went on to pursue an artistic education at Boston University, completing her BFA in Painting in 1965. Afterward, she received her MFA from Yale's School of Art and Architecture in 1967. Swiftly following her graduation she accepted a position at New York's MoMA in their department of Prints and Illustrated Books.
Throughout her employment at the MoMA, she exhibited her work extensively all over New York City, and occasionally Atlanta & Detroit. Her finished pieces are often a result of reconstructed-deconstruction, layered & mixed mediums, and focusing around societal issues of homelessness, race, AIDs, sexism, xenophobia, genocide, amongst many other heavily political subjects.
Pindell's artistic process evolved greatly by the end of the 70s. At this time, her work often included punched out holes in various sizes pasted onto a torn apart (and reconstructed) canvas.
It wasn't until the 80s that contrasting drawings on top of painted landscapes & printed images of TV stills began appearing in her exhibitions. Other personal artistic patterns tracing back to early minimalist drawings on graph paper. Living abroad (India for four months, Japan for seven) and traveling extensively was used as a means to obtain content for her personal history & autobiographies.
Like many of her counterparts, Pindell taught at Yale University as a visiting professor between 1995 and 1999; and from 2003 to 2006, she served as Director of the MFA Program at Stony Brook University. Pindell also served as a full Professor of Art at Stony Brook University.
Her works can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the MoMA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Yale Art Museum, New Haven, the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, and the Rhode Island School of Art Museum. Pindell also became an accomplished writer; a book of her writings, The Heart of the Question, was published in 1997.