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Senga Nengudi papers, 1947, circa 1962-2017

Biographical Note

Senga Nengudi (1943- ) is an African American conceptual and performance artist in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Born Sue Irons in Chicago, Illinois, she earned a bachelor's degree in art with a minor in dance from California State University, Los Angeles. From 1966 to 1967 she studied Japanese culture at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. This study deeply influenced her artistic practice. Upon her return from Japan in 1967, she pursued her master's degree in sculpture at California State University, which she received in 1971.
After receiving her master's degree, she moved to New York to continue her career as an artist, showing at Just Above Midtown Gallery and teaching at the Children's Art Carnival in Harlem. Throughout her career, Nengudi has collaborated and shown with Maren Hassinger, David Hammons, Barbara McCullough, Suzanne Jackson, John Outterbridge, and Bettye Saar. Nengudi is best known for "stationary performance objects," particularly her RSVP series, objects composed of nylon mesh and sand that refer to the flexibility of the female figure. The series debuted in the 1970s and Nengudi returned to it, adding on A.C.Q. to exhibit it at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017. Also in 2017, Senga Nengudi: Improvisational Gestures opened at the DePaul Art Museum. This was the first solo museum survey for the artist and featured work from the 1970s to 2017.