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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. 

The Cooley Gallery 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 it evolved across decades, geographies, and media. Created in close collaboration 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.

Free and open to the public.

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