Senga Nengudi has been named the recipient of the 2023 Nasher Prize given by the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. The $100,000 award honors “a living artist who elevates the understanding of sculpture and its possibilities.” The Los Angeles–based artist will recieve the award at a gala at the Nasher Sculpture Center in April 2023.
Senga Nengudi creates art traversing the disciplines of sculpture and dance to yield works that speak to the fragility and resilience of the human body, our agency as individuals, and the importance of collaboration and friendship. Over more than five decades, Nengudi has developed a practice that encompasses poetic, enigmatic objects and installations as well as performances, films, and photographs exploring the interactions of performers with and amid her three-dimensional works. Despite a long and rich career over more than five decades, she has only come to wider attention more recently, and her achievements find powerful reverberations in contemporary art.
Born in 1943 as Sue Ellen Irons in Chicago, Illinois, Nengudi grew up largely on the west coast, in Pasadena and Los Angeles. Her early interests in art and dance led her to study both, eventually resulting in a bachelor’s degree in art with a minor in dance at Los Angeles State College, followed by a master’s degree in sculpture at the same institution, which by then had changed its name to California State College, Los Angeles.
Her work will go on display at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in October as part of “Just Above Midtown: Changing Spaces” almost half a century after Linda Goode Bryant first opened the doors of the gallery with an exhibition championed Black artists and artists of color during its pioneering run from 1974 to 1986, and where Nengudi debuted her breakthrough “R.S.V.P.” sculpture series in 1977.
The international jury consisted of Nairy Baghramian, Pablo León de la Barra, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Lynne Cooke, Briony Fer, Hou Hanru, Yuko Hasegawa and Nicholas Serotaof – all renowned museum directors, curators, artists and art historians who have an expertise in the field, and varying perspectives on the subject.
Previous winners of the Nasher Prize, which began in 2016, include Nairy Baghramian, Theaster Gates, Isa Genzken, Pierre Huyghe, Michael Rakowitz, and Doris Salcedo.