Franklin Parker, performance participant, CEREMONY FOR FREEWAY FETS, 1978.
Headdress constructed & performance orchestrated by Senga Nengudi.
Photo by Roderick “Quaku” Young.

Parker was a trip! Born in Pittsburgh, PA, we met in California by Venice Beach. Later our friendship was cemented in L.A. in the back end of the 70s. We connected on the grounds of our desire to move art forward in our own way. We were a part of an artist collective that needed to stretch beyond what was considered the Black art norm of the time, a loose band of visual artists wanting to explore performance through our cultural matrix.

From left to right: Parker, WIRE CABLE, circa 1980s. Parker MATTRESS WALL ART, circa 1980s. Parker, WIRE CABLE, circa 1980s.

David Hammons, Maren Hassinger, Parker, Barbara McCullough (filmmaker), Ulysses Jenkins (videographer), Houston Conwill and I, amongst others, would utilize each other to thrash out ideas and methods of doing. All of Los Angeles was our playground. This thrashing out took place on the shore line of Venice & Malibu beaches, abandoned swimming pools, under the freeway, assorted city parks, even during the demolition of a decades old Catholic school and the like.

Ulysses Jenkins & Franklin Parker, FLYING, performance, 1982.
Barnsdall Park, Hollywood.

We each had our own careers, but our time together provided communal support when there was little support to be had then outside of ourselves. Parker was an integral part of that merry band. He brought his own brand of cool & wired nuanced complexity (like his namesake Charlie Parker) to anything we did, as well as his own individual works.

Another casualty of the Big ā€œCā€, weak, yet still A sharp, this is the last drawing he made before the ancestors welcomed him back home.

Parker we love you~
Franklin Parker ~ 1945-2001

Senga Nengudi was born in Chicago, raised and educated in Los Angeles and Pasadena, with a year of post grad study in Tokyo, Japan. She resided in New York during the early 70s and now lives in Colorado. Interested in the visual arts, dance, body mechanics and matters of the spirit from an early age these elements still play themselves out in ever changing ways in her art. (African American Performance Art Archive)