Summer 2016 exhibitions

Summer 2016 exhibitions

Henry Art Gallery at University of Washington

Senga Nengudi, Mesh Mirage, 1978. Studio performance. Courtesy of the artist and Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver. Photo: Adam Avila.
June 23, 2016
Summer 2016 exhibitions

Henry Art Gallery
University of Washington
15th Ave NE & NE 41st St.
Seattle, WA 98195
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Senga Nengudi: Improvisational Gestures
July 16–October 9, 2016

This exhibition surveys the sculpture, performance, video, and related work of American artist Senga Nengudi (born 1943). Working in Los Angeles in the 1970s, Nengudi developed a singular style melding the body in movement with the use of common, everyday materials in a series of collaborative performances with her artist peers, including Maren Hassinger, Ulysses Jenkins, Franklin Parker, Houston Conwill, David Hammons, and Barbara McCullough.

Her approach to art has been inspired by the improvisational qualities of jazz and ritualistic performances from a wide range of sources including traditional African ceremonies, Japanese Kabuki Theater, events of the 1960s, and other forms of modern dance. Recently, Nengudi has used video to explore the ritual quality of textile production and repetitive physical labor.

Nengudi is perhaps best known for her abstract sculpture, particularly her biomorphic nylon mesh series R.S.V.P. (1975 to the present). These sculptures are made from pantyhose that the artist stretches, twists, knots, and fills with sand and other found materials, evoking the elasticity and durability of the human body, and inviting viewers to imagine their own bodies stretching in unexpected ways. Some of these sculptures have been used by the artist and other performers through dance-like movements that entangle their bodies in the materials. As part of this exhibition, Nengudi will work with local dancers to present two improvised public performances with the R.S.V.P. sculpture.

Senga Nengudi: Improvisational Gestures is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and the University of Colorado Colorado Springs Gallery of Contemporary Art. The presentation at the Henry is organized by Nina Bozicnik, Assistant Curator, with support from 4Culture, ArtsFund, and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.


MOTHA and Chris E. Vargas present: Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects
August 13, 2016–June 4, 2017

An ongoing series of exhibitions, Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects, gathers archival materials and works by contemporary artists that narrate the history of transgender communities.

This presentation focuses on lives and experiences specific to Seattle and the greater Pacific Northwest, including Nell Pickerall (also known as Harry Allen and Harry Livingston (1882–1922), and Marsha Botzer, transgender activist and founder of Ingersoll Gender Center (1979); and places such as The Garden of Allah, a popular post-war social gathering space known for its female impersonator cabaret acts.

Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects reclaims stories from the past that tell a history of gender variance and draws lines of kinship across time, while simultaneously pointing to the incomplete nature of this history, including the stories that we will never know because they were not preserved or never told (but should have been).

The Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art is an imaginary museum conceived by Vargas in 2013. By design, it is always “under construction,” a framework that openly questions how a history of transgender individuals, communities, and culture might be organized, and also the relevance of constructing a history around an identity category that is evolving and often contested.

Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects was inspired by the Smithsonian’s book History of America in 101 Objects, which in turn was inspired by A History of The World in 100 Objects, a joint project of the BBC and the British Museum. Vargas’s project takes a critical view of these structures, their institutional function, and history-making in general, reconsidering how transgender people are remembered and recorded.

Chris E. Vargas (US, born 1978) is a video maker and interdisciplinary artist based in Bellingham, WA, who received his MFA in the Department of Art Practice at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2011.

Trans Hirstory in 99 Objects is organized by Chris E. Vargas, Executive Director of the Museum of Transgender Hirstory & Art, with Nina Bozicnik, Assistant Curator at Henry Art Gallery. The exhibition is supported by ArtsFund and Patron Circle members of the Henry.


Also on view
Vik Muniz: Twisted Realism
July 9–October 9, 2016

Paul McCarthy: White Snow, Wood Sculptures
March 5, 2016 now extended through January 15, 2017


About the Henry
A museum of contemporary art and ideas, Henry Art Gallery presents provocative exhibitions by a multi-national roster of emerging and mid-career artists. Known for taking risks and for allowing space for uncertain outcome, we anticipate the conversations and opinions that will be important and relevant in the field.

For further information and image requests, please contact [email protected].

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Henry Art Gallery at University of Washington
June 23, 2016

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