(born 1947, Los Angeles, California; lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland and New York, New York)
Maren Hassinger works in a variety of media including sculpture, installation, performance, and video. Coming to the visual arts via dance, her practice is steeped in bodily knowledge of how physical presences inhabit a three-dimensional space. Her work Diaries (1978)—the first part of a trio of pieces titled Lives—documents daily activities. In other works, Hassinger experiments with nontraditional artistic materials. Ten Minutes (1977) is performed within the confines of one person’s body length. In it, she combines tree branches with industrial materials, linking natural and manmade to suggest their ultimate interconnectedness.
Hassinger often works with sculptural objects in her performances, observing that in many African traditions, “There is not this big separation between making objects and performance.” During the present exhibition, she will activate an iconic work from the series RSVP which was created by longtime collaborator Senga Nengudi. To activate the work, Hassinger, will move through the nylon structure—pulling, stretching, and knotting it—and in so doing, highlight the pulling and stretching of her own body. Hassinger will also present her own Women’s Work (2006), a meditative performance in which she and others repetitively manipulate newspaper, alluding to sewing, knitting, and other forms traditionally labeled women’s work. Their communal gestures are amplified using microphones and speakers, transforming the simple actions into a cacophonous sound piece.
Maren Hassinger received her BA from Bennington College (1969) and her MFA fro the University of California, Los Angeles (1973). She has been the director of the Rinehart School of Sculpture at Maryland Institute College of Art since 1997. Her solo exhibitions include Maren Hassinger: Lives, Schmucker Gallery, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA (2010); Blanket of Branches and Dancing Branches, Contemporary Arts Forum and Alice Keck Park, Santa Barbara, CA (1986); Gallery Six: Maren Hassinger, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1981); and Beach, Just Above Midtown/Downtown Gallery, New York (1980). Her group exhibitions include Cinema Remixed and Reloaded 2.0, Havana Biennial (2012); Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles, 1960–1980, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2011, traveling); Dance/Draw, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2011); VideoStudio: Playback, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2011); Material Girls, Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Baltimore (2011); Global Africa Project, Museum of Arts and Design, New York (2010); 30 Seconds off an Inch, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2009); Cinema Remixed and Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image since 1970, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta (2007–9); Riffs and Rhythms: Abstract Forms and Lived Realities, James E. Lewis Museum of Art, Morgan State University, Baltimore (2006).