University Art Museum
Well/Being: An Exhibition on Healing and Repair
August 4 - December 11, 2021
Artists, Installation Views, Public Programs, About

Sanford Biggers

People in robes in a Zen Buddhist temple sitting on the floor.
Sanford Biggers, Hip Hop Ni Sasagu (In Fond Memory of Hip Hop)(still), 2004, video, 5:55; color, sound, courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York and Aspen [ image description: People sitting meditatively on the floor of a Zen Buddhist temple. ]

Sanford Biggers finds kinship between Black American and Zen Buddhist spiritual traditions and spent several years studying meditation in Japan, where he completed this video. In Hip Hop Ni Sasagu (In Fond Memory of Hip Hop) Biggers and 15 other participants in zazen—or sitting meditation—at Joanin Zen Temple each have their own singing bell, many of which were fabricated from melted down jewelry associated with hip-hop. Participants strike their bells when they feel so moved, creating a wordless community of silence and sound. Biggers has said that hip-hop is both “everything and nothing,” an ambivalence reflected in his use of a bell choir and Buddhist meditation to memorialize hip-hop. The mutability of hip-hop jewelry reflects the mutability of identity in his work—resonating with the Buddhist notions of impermanence. Biggers’s crossovers between visual art and music continue today with his experimental musical group Moon Medicin.

Sanford Biggers

Born in 1970 in Los Angeles, California. Lives and works in New York, New York.

Selected solo exhibitions include Codeswitch at the Bronx Museum of the Arts in Bronx, New York (2021); Contra/Diction at SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia (2021); a campus-wide installation at Rockefeller Center in partnership with Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York, New York (2021); the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis in St. Louis, Missouri (2018); the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit in Detroit, Michigan (2016); Mass MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts (2012); and the Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn, New York (2011).

Biggers’s work is held in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago in Chicago, Illinois; the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota; the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.; the Dallas Museum of Art in Dallas, Texas; and the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama; among others.

Selected awards include Savannah College of Art & Design’s SCAD deFINE ART award (2021); a Guggenheim Fellowship (2020); the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award (2018); and the Rome Prize Fellowship in Visual Arts (2017). He was inducted into the New York Foundation for the Arts Hall of Fame in 2019.

Biggers received a B.A. from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1992 and an M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois in 1999.