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River

Maren Hassinger (b. 1947) River, 1972/2011 Mixed-media installation with steel chains and rope 7 × 89 × 358 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem; gift of the artist 2012.34

Interested in nature and its relationship to industry, Maren Hassinger often references organic forms in sculptures made from materials derived from the manufactured world. River flows like the natural waterway for which it is named, but it appears heavy, loaded with symbolism and tension. The title and materials evoke the chains and ropes of the Middle Passage, the voyage of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic to the Americas—and thereby carry the weight of centuries of slavery in this country. Yet River is also a tribute to nature, which Hassinger considers a means to unify humanity.

Artist in Residence 1984–85