Maren Hassinger and Senga Nengudi, Video Letters, September 17 and September 19, 1998 (stills), 1998, video (color, sound), 48:18 min. Courtesy the artists, Susan Inglett Gallery, NYC, Sprüth Magers, and Thomas Erben Gallery.

Las Vegas Ikebana: Maren Hassinger and Senga Nengudi

February 15 - May 19, 2024

Las Vegas Ikebana: Maren Hassinger and Senga Nengudi is curated by Allie Tepper, associate curator.
The exhibition is organized for the Cooley by Tepper with director Stephanie Snyder.

“Don’t be Scared”: A Talk on the Art of Collaboration by Maren Hassinger and Senga Nengudi, with opening remarks by exhibition curator Allie Tepper, and closing commentaries by Dr. Leslie King Hammond and Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims—presented as part of the Stephen E. Ostrow Distinguished Visitors in the Visual Arts program, Reed College.
         Saturday, February 17, 2:00 pm, Performing Arts Building Atrium,
         followed by a reception at the Cooley
—all events free and open to the public

See-See Riders (2024), a new performance choreographed by Senga Nengudi and danced by sidony o'neal and keyon gaskin, presented in the exhibition
        Friday, February 16, 3:00 pm
        Saturday, February 17, noon
        Saturday, March 23, noon
*Limited seating, to attend please email

Cooley exhibition hours: Thursday through Sunday, noon to 5:00 pm
Nestled in the Reed College library—always free 

The Cooley is pleased to present
Las Vegas Ikebana: Maren Hassinger and Senga Nengudi, the first museum exhibition focused on the pioneering collective and cross-genre practices of artists Maren Hassinger (b. 1947, Los Angeles) and Senga Nengudi (b. 1943, Chicago). Since their first encounter in Los Angeles in 1977, Hassinger and Nengudi have developed an expansive body of time-based collaborations that span nearly five decades. Exceeding categorization, their works are grounded in performance, conceptual ideas, and a passionate exploration of the body in motion—tied to their shared training in movement languages developed by choreographers such as Lester Horton and Rudy Perez. While maintaining rigorous solo practices rooted in sculpture and installation, together the artists developed suites of dances, performance events and happenings, videos, and conceptual correspondences. Through this work they vitalized their personal commitments to one another, and to their artistic practices, forging a crucial system of support in periods of institutional neglect. Las Vegas Ikebana: Maren Hassinger and Senga Nengudi explores the longevity and transformative nature of the artists’ collaborations, as they evolved across decades, geographies, and media. Created in close dialogue with the artists, the exhibition is a reflexive record of their work and history, and an enactment of their ongoing practice, built through an ethos of love.

The exhibition title “Las Vegas Ikebana,” is derived from a concept that the artists developed in the late ’80s that drew from Hassinger’s experience working in a flower shop in Los Angeles and Nengudi’s exploration of Japanese aesthetic forms. The phrase “Las Vegas Ikebana,” was privately exchanged between Hassinger and Nengudi to describe and catalyze many of their creative expressions for years to come. As Nengudi notes, she liked the term for “the absurdity of it, and how it stirs one’s thought processes.” The phrase also encompasses many aspects of the artists’ individual and collective work such as their interests in improvisational compositions, ritual, popular culture, humor, eroticism, impermanence, and the natural world.

The exhibition includes early work made in Los Angeles in the 1970s and ’80s, including Hassinger’s performances with Nengudi’s seminal series R.S.V.P. (1977–present)—and events made with associates including Franklin Parker, Houston Conwill, David Hammons, Ulysses Jenkins, and the collective of Black artists known as Studio Z. It also draws crucial attention to lesser-known works from the 1990s and 2000s, following their departures from Los Angeles. Amidst personal challenges and newfound geographic distance between them, the artists embraced new media such as video and mailed, conceptual correspondences. Las Vegas Ikebana: Maren Hassinger and Senga Nengudi assembles a breadth of materials including video, rare artist books and ephemera, photography, drawings, as well as select sculptures and newly commissioned installations and performances.

The exhibition is accompanied by the first publication on Maren Hassinger and Senga Nengudi’s collective work, edited by Allie Tepper, co-published by the Cooley and Pacific, and designed by Pacific, forthcoming in fall 2024. A scholarly resource and conceptual sourcebook on the artists’ shared creative practice, the book includes newly commissioned conversations and essays by Tepper, Hassinger, Nengudi, Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims and Dr. Leslie King Hammond, Kemi Adeyemi, Sampada Aranke, and Steffani Jemison, and a directors forward by Stephanie Snyder, alongside extensive archival material.

Press Contact
Allie Tepper
Exhibition curator