Senga Nengudi, celebrated for revolutionizing the marriage between pantyhose sculptures and performance art, has just made history with her latest honor.
She will receive $100,000, the largest cash award of any international sculpture prize, and a trophy designed by Nasher architect Renzo Piano. The ceremony will take place on April 1, 2023.
“We are honored to award the 2023 Nasher Prize to Senga Nengudi,” Nasher Director Jeremy Strick stated in a press release announcing the award. “Throughout her career, Nengudi has helped push the boundaries of the field of sculpture, inviting the world to reconsider the temporality of sculptural works, where these works can be displayed, and the materials out of which they can be composed.”
Born in 1943, 79-year-old Nengudi has employed an artistic practice that uses unexpected elements like pantyhose and sand to showcase women’s fragility and resilience of the human body. She is notable for bridging sculpture, music, poetry, and dance to yield works deeply influenced by the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, and second-wave feminism. The work has often come to fruition with the help of friends and other artists.
Nengudi’s works, such as “Ceremony for Freeway Frets” from 1978, fuse photography and the power of friendship. This installation, in particular, also accompanied a sculpture of nylon stockings and an unrehearsed and improvisational performance enacting male and female spirits.
“Simply by being, that’s a political statement,” Nengudi stated in a 2018 interview for Hyperallergic.
“So, whatever comes out of me has all those elements of me in it: I’m black, I’m a woman, at this point I’m a woman of a certain age, which also has issues related to it. So simply by being, I am those things.”
In addition to her awards, Nengudi’s work will be featured in an extended, major exhibition at Dia Beacon, starting February 17, 2023.