Mildred Howard – Gold Dust, The Other Side of the Coin
Dimensions: 36 x 28 x 2″ framed / 29 x 21″ approx. unframed
Medium: pigmented inkjet and acrylic on Awagami Japanese paper
Edition: va 10
Fairbank’s Gold Dust washing products was first introduced to the American consumer in 1889 featuring its iconic trademarked logo – the Gold Dust Twins – with “Let the Twins Do Your Work” as the product’s long-lasting slogan. The twins were clearly of African decent and serves as a zeitgeist of 19th century household racial stereotype.
Mildred Howard is an artist, activist, teacher, mother and grandmother, born and raised in the Bay Area. Known for her sculptural installations and mixed-media assemblage work, Howard has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Adeline Kent Award from the San Francisco Art Institute, the Joan Mitchell Foundation and a fellowship from the California Arts Council.
In 2011, the city of Berkeley honored Howard by declaring March 29, 2011 to be Mildred Howard Day. As San Francisco Chronicle writer Leah Garchik explains: Howard, a San Francisco-born artist whose work is at the Oakland Museum of California, the de Young, SFMOMA, the San Jose Museum of Art and elsewhere, has founded educational programs, managed an art and communities program at the Exploratorium, and was executive director of the Edible Schoolyard. She’s been involved with nearly every university and art institution in the Bay Area and has also worked in Alameda County Juvenile Hall and in various Bay Area jails.
Howard has lived in Berkeley since 1949 and has lived a uniquely engaged life; as a teenager, she shook hands with John F. Kennedy and had lunch with Fannie Lou Hamer, and recalls seeing Muhammad Ali shadowboxing his way down Adeline one morning in the early 1970s. She was a member of SNCC and CORE, protested segregation in Berkeley schools, and continues to work with youth and emerging artists both in the Bay Area and internationally.
Her 2014 “Gold Dust, The Other Side of the Coin,” pigmented inkjet and acrylic on Japanese paper, serves as commentary on an old laundry detergent brand known for its racist logo depicting two Black children. Howard turned the figures into mirror images of herself and transformed the coins in the logo into tributes to such figures as Martin Luther King Jr. and Booker T. Washington.