NEW/NOW: Sanford Biggers

September 29, 2016–January 23, 2017

Sanford Biggers (B. 1970), Mantra (detail), 2016, Colored Sand, 22 x 22 ft.      |       © Sanford Biggers

The New Britain Museum of American Art is thrilled to showcase the work of internationally acclaimed artist Sanford Biggers in our forthcoming NEW/NOW exhibition in the Batchelor Gallery.

On the occasion of this presentation, Biggers will create a large site-specific installation of a floor rug composed of loose sand poured unaffixed to the floor in colorful patterns that evoke prayer rugs or quilts—objects frequently referenced in Biggers’s works for their aesthetic and cultural associations. Throughout the duration of the exhibition, audiences can engage with the work through meditation and observance, and by participating in a host of related programs organized by the Museum involving dance, discussion, and community. For Mantra, the artist has recreated Sue Willie Seltzer's (b. 1922), Housetop, a nine-block Half Log Cabin variation quilt, circa 1955.

A Los Angeles native currently working and teaching in New York, Biggers spent three years in Japan in the 1990s, where he became deeply interested in Buddhist philosophy and practice. Inspired by the mandalas produced by monks, which symbolize the spirit, temporality, and ephemerality, Biggers began to incorporate their patterns within his own artworks, including mandala dance floors upon which breakdancing was performed. The mandala floors gradually evolved into poured-sand rugs, reflecting Biggers’s interest in creating objects of a fleeting, temporary nature.

Throughout his career, Biggers has pursued an interdisciplinary practice involving film, video, installation, sculpture, drawing, original music, and performance, to address a range of subjects including hip-hop, Buddhism, politics, identity, and art history in order to offer new perspectives and associations regarding established symbols and the American experience. Biggers has exhibited worldwide throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. His works are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Brooklyn Museum, Bronx Museum of the Arts, and Walker Art Center, among many others.

Sanford Biggers

An LA native working in NYC, Sanford Biggers creates artworks that integrate film, video, installation, sculpture, drawing, original music and performance. He intentionally complicates issues such as hip hop, Buddhism, politics, identity and art history in order to offer new perspectives and associations for established symbols. Through a multi-disciplinary formal process and a syncretic creative approach he makes works that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are conceptual.

The significance of Biggers’ work within contemporary society has been celebrated through solo exhibitions both nationally and internationally, most recently at the Brooklyn Museum, Sculpture Center and Mass MoCA. He has participated in prestigious residencies and fellowships including: Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany; Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland; Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, California; ARCUS Project Foundation, Ibaraki, Japan; and the Art in General/ Trafo Gallery Eastern European Exchange in Budapest, Hungary. He has been a fellow of the Creative Time Global Residency, the Socrates Sculpture Park Residency, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council World Views AIR Program, the Eyebeam Atelier Teaching Residency, the Studio Museum AIR Program, the P.S. 1 International Studio Program, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture residency.

Sanford Biggers’ installations, videos, and performances have appeared in venues worldwide including Tate Britain and Tate Modern in London, the Whitney Museum and Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, and the Yerba Bue a Center for the Arts in San Francisco, as well as institutions in China, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Poland and Russia. The artist’s works have been included in notable exhibitions such as: Prospect 1 New Orleans Biennial, Illuminations at the Tate Modern, Performa 07 in NY, the Whitney Biennial, and Freestyle at the Studio Museum in Harlem. His works are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Walker Art Center, Whitney Museum, Brooklyn Museum and Bronx Museum.

Biggers has won awards including: the American Academy in Berlin Prize, Greenfield Prize, New York City Art Teachers Association Artist-of-the-Year, Creative Time Travel Grant, Creative Capital Project Grant, New York Percent for the Arts Commission, Art Matters Grant, New York Foundation for the Arts Award, the Lambent Fellowship in the Arts, the Pennies From Heaven/ New York Community Trust Award, Tanne Foundation Award, and Rema Hort Mann Foundation Award Grant.

Biggers is Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s Visual Arts program and a board member of Sculpture Center, Soho House and the CUE Foundation. He has also taught at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Sculpture and Expanded Media program and was a visiting scholar at Harvard University’s VES Department in 2009.