Over the course of her influential career, artist Mildred Howard (b. 1945) has used a variety of media to engage in pointed yet nuanced examinations of the history and politics of gender, race, and other issues central to contemporary society. Working in collage, sculptural assemblage, and large-scale installations, Howard assembles a blend of American folk art, family photographs, and antique engravings, among other appropriated objects, to explore both cultural memory and the historical roots of topical issues, such as oppression, sexual harassment, and personal privacy. Her enduring interest in history is derived, in part, from her parents, Rolly and Mable “Mama” Howard, who not only collected and sold antiques but were also actively involved with the Civil Rights movement. Howard’s parents fostered in her a desire to address social ills in her art, and recent series such as Casanova’s Assignations and I’ve Been a Witness to this Game demonstrate her ongoing commitment to her parents’ legacy.
Howard serves as the seventh guest artist in the university’s Jerome M. Westheimer, Sr. and Wanda Otey Westheimer Distinguished Visiting Artist Chair program. A native of San Francisco, Howard received her MFA from John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, California in 1985 and has worked in the Bay Area for the majority of her career. During her distinguished career, she has been the recipient of the Adeline Kent Award from San Francisco Art Institute in 1991, the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award in 2004-05, the Lee Krasner Award in 2015, the Nancy Graves Grant for Visual Artists in 2017 and, in 2018, an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts and the Douglas G. MacAgy Distinguished Achievement Award from San Francisco Art Institute.