Born Sue Irons in Chicago in 1943, Senga Nengudi studied art and dance in Los Angeles in the 1960s, with a year between undergraduate and graduate school spent at Waseda University in Tokyo. She began her career among a group of avant-garde black artists working in Los Angeles and New York during the 1970s and early 1980s, one that included her frequent collaborators David Hammons and Maren Hassinger.
Nengudi is best known for her abstract sculptures from this time, particularly her biomorphic nylon mesh series, “Respondez s’il vous plait” (1975-77), made from panty hose that the artist stretched, twisted and knotted, as well as filled at intervals with sand to create sagging breast- or testiclelike bulges. In contrast to the works of many of her African-American peers, these sculptures abjured specific political content or ethnic associations, even as they powerfully evoked fragility and resilience, both bodily and psychic.
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