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Senga Nengudi, Internal I | Video in American Sign Language

Feb 21, 2018

Educator Lauren Ridloff discusses a work by Senga Nengudi in the exhibition An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017.

Senga Nengudi is a studied dancer and sculptor. When she sculpts, she often uses nylons and sand. In 1977, Nengudi started to focus on nylons, she was fascinated with the material. How it could stretch and expand and how flexible it is. She felt it reflected the expansion and elasticity of the human body. When Nengudi first started experimenting with nylons, she would use her own or take them from her friends. She preferred to use worn nylons because she felt it reflected the energy of the wearer. Nengudi remembers the challenge of finding nylons in different colors. As a person of color, she found the options were very limited when she wanted to find a darker shade. For example, a coffee color was very hard to find. She also found it interesting that the darker colors tended to be sold in plus sizes. When Nengudi showed her work, she wanted to show the interaction of the nylons. Remember, she was a trained dancer, so she wanted to display how the nylons moved.