A Finding Aid to the Senga Nengudi Papers, 1947, circa 1962-2017 in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.nengseng
Creators:
Nengudi, Senga, 1943-
Dates:
1947
circa 1962-2017
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
12.8 Linear feet
11.24 Gigabytes
Repository:
The papers of African American conceptual and performance artist Senga Nengudi measure 12.8 linear feet and 11.24 gigabytes and date from circa 1962 to 2017, with a folder of printed material dating from 1947. The collection contains biographical material including education and family records, the kimono Nengudi wore during her wedding to Ellioutt Fittz, certificates, interview transcripts, and address books; calendars and journals chronicling Nengudi's appointments, thoughts, and artistic practice; and correspondence with friends and other artists including Maren Hassinger, Cheryl Banks, and David Hammons. Also included is family correspondence, including letters between Senga Nengudi (then Sue Irons) and her mother when Nengudi was living in Japan. The collection also contains writings by Senga Nengudi and others; material related to professional activities including teaching files, gallery files, and files related to exhibitions, projects, and performances; printed material including exhibition and event announcements and catalogs, clippings, magazines, and other published material; a scrapbook primarily containing photographs and printed material; photographic material depicting Senga Nengudi, works of art, and other individuals; artwork by Nengudi and others, including Maren Hassinger; and audio and video recordings, including recordings of performances.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of African American conceptual and performance artist Senga Nengudi measure 12.8 linear feet and 11.24 gigabytes and date from circa 1962 to 2017, with a folder of printed material dating from 1947. The collection contains biographical material, including education and family records, the kimono Nengudi wore during her wedding to Ellioutt Fittz, certificates, interview transcripts, and address books; calendars and journals chronicling Nengudi's appointments, thoughts, and artistic practice; and correspondence with friends and other artists including Maren Hassinger, Cheryl Banks, and David Hammons. Also included is family correspondence, including letters between Senga Nengudi (then Sue Irons) and her mother when Nengudi was living in Japan. The collection also contains writings by Senga Nengudi and others; material related to professional activities including teaching files, gallery files, and files related to exhibitions, projects, and performances; printed material including exhibition and event announcements and catalogs, clippings, magazines, and other published material; a scrapbook primarily containing photographs and printed material; photographic material depicting Senga Nengudi, works of art, and other individuals; artwork by Nengudi and others, including Maren Hassinger and Barbara McCullough; and audio and video recordings, including recordings of performances.

Arrangement
Arrangement
This collection is arranged as ten series.
  • Series 1: Biographical Material, 1962-2006, 2017 (Box 1, Box 14; 0.5 linear feet)
  • Series 2: Calendars and Journals, 1967-2016 (Boxes 1-6; Box 15; 5.7 linear feet)
  • Series 3: Correspondence, 1966-2017 (Boxes 6-8; 1.7 linear feet)
  • Series 4: Writings, 1964-2010 (Box 8; 0.3 linear feet)
  • Series 5: Professional Activities, 1966-2017 (Boxes 8-10, Box 15; 1.9 linear feet, ER01-ER06; 11.10 GB)
  • Series 6: Printed Material, 1947, 1963-2017 (Boxes 10-12, Box 15; 1.4 linear feet, ER07; 0.143 GB)
  • Series 7: Scrapbook, 1974-1976 (Box 15; 1 folder)
  • Series 8: Photographic Material, circa 1962-2007 (Box 12, Box 15; 0.1 linear feet)
  • Series 9: Artwork, circa 1960s-2004, 2014, undated (Box 12, Box 15; 0.5 linear feet)
  • Series 10: Audio and Video Recordings, circa 1974-1998 (Boxes 12-13; 0.4 linear feet)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Senga Nengudi (1943- ) is an African American conceptual and performance artist in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Born Sue Irons in Chicago, Illinois, she earned a bachelor's degree in art with a minor in dance from California State University, Los Angeles. From 1966 to 1967 she studied Japanese culture at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. This study deeply influenced her artistic practice. Upon her return from Japan in 1967, she pursued her master's degree in sculpture at California State University, which she received in 1971.
After receiving her master's degree, she moved to New York to continue her career as an artist, showing at Just Above Midtown Gallery and teaching at the Children's Art Carnival in Harlem. Throughout her career, Nengudi has collaborated and shown with Maren Hassinger, David Hammons, Barbara McCullough, Suzanne Jackson, John Outterbridge, and Bettye Saar. Nengudi is best known for "stationary performance objects," particularly her RSVP series, objects composed of nylon mesh and sand that refer to the flexibility of the female figure. The series debuted in the 1970s and Nengudi returned to it, adding on A.C.Q. to exhibit it at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017. Also in 2017, Senga Nengudi: Improvisational Gestures opened at the DePaul Art Museum. This was the first solo museum survey for the artist and featured work from the 1970s to 2017.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was minimally processed and a finding aid prepared by Rayna Andrews in 2019 with funding from the Henry Luce Foundation. Born-digital materials were processed by Jess Purkis in 2019.
Author
Rayna Andrews
Sponsor
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Henry Luce Foundation.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Senga Nengudi papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in 2018 and 2019 by Senga Nengudi.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center.
Researchers interested in accessing born-digital records or audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies. Contact References Services for more information.
Conditions Governing Use
The Archives of American Art makes its archival collections available for non-commercial, educational and personal use unless restricted by copyright and/or donor restrictions, including but not limited to access and publication restrictions. AAA makes no representations concerning such rights and restrictions and it is the user's responsibility to determine whether rights or restrictions exist and to obtain any necessary permission to access, use, reproduce and publish the collections. Please refer to the Smithsonian's Terms of Use for additional information.
Preferred Citation
Senga Nengudi papers, 1947, circa 1962-2017. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Related Materials
The Amistad Research Center also holds 4.5 linear feet of the Senga Nengudi papers, 1966-2017.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Conceptual artists -- Colorado -- Colorado Springs Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Performance artists -- Colorado -- Colorado Springs Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
African American artists Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Women artists Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sound recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Video recordings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diaries Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketchbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hassinger, Maren Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hammons, David, 1943- Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Banks, Cheryl Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
McCullough, Barbara Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/