Senga Nengudi – Artist

“Sharing each others cultures through the arts provides a true bridge to a healthy respect for one another and arts education in general provides a means to stimulate the mind and exercise creative problem solving.” *

Senga Nengudi emerged as part of a group of avant-garde African-American artists active in Los Angeles and New York in the 1970s and 1980s. Her peers, members of the Studio Z collective and what came to be known as the LA Rebellion, included the artists David Hammons, Maren Hassinger, Barbara McCullough, John Outterbridge, Noah Purifoy and others. Informed by a shifted sociopolitical consciousness, Nengudi’s earliest work synthesized feminism, African and Japanese dance, music, and religious rituals in experimental sculptures and performances. These themes continue to inform Nengudi’s interdisciplinary practice to this day. Nengudi’s work often draws from collaboration with other artists and disciplines, including dancers and musicians. Blending natural and synthetic materials, including pantyhose, rubber and sand, her sculptures often await the activation of a human body, marking and mystifying the dynamic intimacy between us and the matter that we move through.**

Senga Nengudi, R.S.V.P., 1977

R.S.V.P. grew out of Nengudi’s reflections upon the changes her body underwent during her first pregnancy, and, more generally, upon the shared experience of womanhood. With their bulbous, sand-filled forms, the pantyhose evoke what the artist describes as the elasticity of the body. “I am working with nylon mesh because it relates to the elasticity of the human body,” she explained. “From tender, tight beginnings to sagging…the body can only stand so much push and pull until it gives way, never to resume its original shape.”2 Nengudi sees the female psyche, on the other hand, as more resilient, and aims to reflect this quality in the work as well. Like the pantyhose, the “psyche can stretch, stretch, stretch and come back into shape.”***

Senga Nengudi, R.S.V.P., 1977, sculpture activated by Maren Hassinger, dimensions variable.
Interested in the visual arts, dance, body mechanics and matters of the spirit from an early age these elements still play themselves out in ever changing ways in her art. She has always used a variety of natural (sand, dirt, rocks, seed pods) and unconventional (panty hose, found objects, masking tape) materials to fashion her works, utilizing these materials as a jazz musician utilizes notes and sounds to improvise a composition. The thrust of her art is to share common experiences in abstractions that hit the senses and center, often welcoming the viewer to become a participant.*





The information on this web-page is for educational and research purposes.  Article entries and images are not my own. Please review sources and links above for more information. This blog post is for educational purposes only and for sharing valuable information to others interested in the arts.

Thank you.

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