This program celebrates the opening of Senga Nengudi: Improvisational Gestures. It begins with an improvised dance performance with one of Nengudi’s nylon mesh sculptures, which will be followed by a conversation between Senga Nengudi and Elissa Auther, the exhibition’s co-curator.
Internationally acclaimed multimedia and performance artist Senga Nengudi (born 1943) has been exhibiting work since the 1970s. She has had solo exhibitions at White Cube, London (2014); Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver (2014); Thomas Erben Gallery, New York City (2013); Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Philadelphia (2007), among many others. Her work has recently been included in group exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (2012-2013); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2011); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2011); and the Museum of Art and Design, New York City (2008). Nengudi’s work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (New York); Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles); Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris); Tate Modern (London); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles). A longtime arts educator, Nengudi was faculty in the Visual Arts and Performing Arts Department at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs from 1998 to 2009 and taught art to children at both the Watts Towers and Pasadena Art Museum. Nengudi majored in art and minored in dance at California State University, Los Angeles in 1966, after which she studied for a year at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, returning to Los Angeles in 1967, attending graduate courses in sculpture at CSULA and volunteering at the Watts Towers Arts Center. Throughout the 1970s, in between New York and Los Angeles, Nengudi developed the signature aspects of her approach to art making, which is characterized by an interest in ritual, found materials, the body, and collaborative processes.
Elissa Auther is the Windgate Research and Collections Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design and the Bard Graduate Center. Her book, String, Felt, Thread: The Hierarchy of Art and Craft in American Art (Minnesota, 2010), focuses on the broad utilization of fiber in American art of the 1960s and 70s and the changing hierarchical relationship between art and craft expressed by the medium’s new visibility. In addition, she co-curated and edited the accompanying catalog for the exhibition West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977 (Minnesota, 2012). Most recently she co-curated the retrospective exhibition of the painter and photographer Marilyn Minter and she has two new publications on the fiber-based work of artist Josh Faught. She also co-directs Feminism & Co.: Art, Sex, Politics, a public program at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver that focuses on issues of women and gender through creative practice.