Monday, September 26, 2022

Senga Nengudi: First African American woman to win the Nasher Sculpture Prize

Sculptor and performance artist Senga Nengudi is the winner of the 2023 Nasher Prize.

With the international award, the 79-year-old Nengudi will receive $100,000 — along with a trophy designed by the center's architect, Renzo Piano.

The Chicago-born, California-raised Senga Nengudi is known for pushing the boundaries of sculpture into performance art, notably with "Ceremony for Freeway Frets" from 1978. Nengudi and a group of fellow artists, often donning items she designed, climbed under a Los Angeles freeway overpass. While they performed music and danced, she distributed artworks made from what has been a signature material, pantyhose.

Nengudi has often used pantyhose to evoke women, the boundaries that encase them, human flesh in general and the fragility of that flesh (the pieces can decay — and disappear.

Nengudi has knotted and stuffed pantyhose, suggesting sagging human bodies as well as discarded materials and discarded lives. The artist herself has performed with her sculptural pieces. Clearly influenced by the Civil Rights Movement as well as feminism, these works have had Nengudi tied down or restrained in webs of stretched pantyhose. Nengudi often records these ephemeral works with film, video, photography — and in her own journals.

The Nasher comes with the largest cash award of any international sculpture prize. Nengudi was chosen by an 8-member panel that included the previous winner, Nairy Baghramain, and longtime Nasher jurist, Sir Nicholas Serota, the chair of Arts Council England.


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