Over her five-decade-long career, Nengudi has realized a remarkable body of work that blurs the boundaries between sculpture and performance, fine art and ritual, individual authorship and collective energy. Made of everyday materials such as vinyl, water, nylon, sand, dry-cleaning bags, lint, paper, and tape, Nengudi’s installations are at once proxies for bodies and sites for performance. The works accommodate a variety of cultural references from African, Japanese, and South Asian rites to Western avant-garde art. Characteristic of her openness to multiplicity, the artist, born Sue Ellen Irons, has assumed pseudonyms that inflect her creative identities as sculptor (Senga Nengudi), painter (Harriet Chin), photographer (Propecia Leigh), and writer (Lily Bea Moor).
Dia’s long-term exhibition of Nengudi’s work will be accompanied by a performance program and publication, revealing the multiplicity of her practice. Sculptures and room-sized installations from the years 1969 to 2020 will be on display at Dia Beacon, including recent acquisitions in Dia’s permanent collection. Performances at Dia Beacon and partnering venues will activate and complement the sculptural presentation, and an artist book will collect, for the first time, Nengudi’s drawings, photographs, prints, poems, performance instructions, and other writings.
Senga Nengudi is curated by Matilde Guidelli-Guidi, associate curator at Dia.
All exhibitions at Dia are made possible by the Economou Exhibition Fund.
Senga Nengudi made possible by significant support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts.
Senga Nengudi was born in Chicago in 1943. She lives in Colorado Springs.