Duff Schweninger was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1945, and grew up there. He received a BFA in painting from the University of Illinois in 1967, and an MFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1969 where he was a teaching fellow. After graduate school he lived and worked in Providence, Rhode Island.

In 1969, during his second year at RISD, Schweninger changed his course from painting to more conceptual, spatial and environmental concerns after he was exposed to the work of the Nouveau Realists, Arte Povera, Fluxus, and the ideas of Herbert Marcuse, Thielhard de Chardon and Buckminster Fuller.

Since the early 1970s, Schweninger’s work has included performance, transmission art, sculpture, video art, graphics and installation.


Schweninger's sculptural work often employs the interplay of material, space, and action over time. The work might be altered by the artist over the course of its existence. Individual pieces are composed of elements that lend themselves best to each particular construction or situation. The work exists in a multi-dimensional sense and takes on a life of its own. It functions or is activated by natural forces in its immediate environment, such as light, water, air movement or human interaction. In many cases the viewer is meant to move through and interact with the work, experience it or become part of it, changing or adding to the work as a result of this interplay.

His first solo show was Distribution, (1972) at Woods Gallery, Rhode Island School of Design. Using the material vermiculite, Schweninger created a set of changing spatial relationships within the gallery over the time of the show. At the end of the show, the vermiculite was responsibly recycled and used as insulation for a nearby building.

Energy Release (1970), an artist-led group action in Providence, R.I. that mapped an imaginary object made by the simultaneous directional release of thought energy extending beyond Providence to the end of the universe.

Selected works: Zipper Box, Banana, Candles & Bricks, Big Dig, Rope Sine, Objects in Court, NERVE, I'm Checker, Number Series,

Man & Mechanism

In the 1990s and 2000s, his work has involved themes of ecology, conservation and the transformation of energy. Light plays an important role in the work, as a source of energy or as a chromatic component. Solar energy has been used as a power source to drive kinetic sculptures in a series titled LIGHTWORK. Many of the materials used in these constructions are found or recycled. Schweninger has employed water as a kinetic element in fountains constructed in Rhode Island and Savannah, Georgia.

Selected Works: Quixote 1 & 2, Dirty Business, Therapeutic Green, Earth Bottle, Hanging Tree, Truncated Tree, Singing Tree,

Spinning Tree, Saucer, Solar System, Beacon Light, Farmland, Needles, Brunswick Fountain, Earth Breather 1,

Copernicus Cube, Time Piece, Foil no.1


Schweninger’s 1973 performance, Animal Projection, was executed at the Woods Gallery, Rhode Island School of Design. As mentioned in Avalanche No. 7, “the artist's main concern was to recreate an environment and control the space in the way an animal controls his territorial domain. After occupying a 20 X 30 room for long periods, Schweninger attempted to cancel his human mode of thinking in order to act instinctively rather than reflectively.” Willoughby Sharp, Avalanche Rumbles

Selected Works: Black Bag, Arriving at the Motif, Xtool


In 1971, Schweninger purchased a Sony Video Portapak and began a lifelong interest in video and electronic media.

Selected works: Survivor, Dust Collection, TV Penetration, TrippleX, CODE


While living in Providence, Rhode Island Schweninger co-founded What Cheer Arts, an artist-run exhibit space and studios. Members included: Richard Fleischner, James Carpenter, Dale Chihuly, Hardu Keck, Mary Schaffer and the video collective Electron Movers.

In 1975 Schweninger moved to New York City to join a group of artists brought together by Willoughby Sharp including Martha Wilson, Virginia Piersol and Kirsten Bates, who signed a ten-year net lease on the building at 112 Franklin Street in Tribeca, founding the Franklin Street Arts Center. For the next three years, as the FSAC’s Vice President he administered the Arts Center and founded the Live Injection Point (LIP) with Willoughby Sharp. The LIP/FSAC produced events and cable television programs with artists from many disciplines in its live video theater and television studio in the basement of the FSAC with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. The LIP collaborated with Keith Sonnier and Liza Bear on Send Receive (1977), the live two-way satellite network between New York and San Francisco and designed and engineered a real-time infra red interconnect to Manhattan Cable TV.


In 1972, Schweninger began working with the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts in the first Artists in the Schools program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.

In 1973, he was appointed Artist-in-Residence to the State of Rhode Island. He organized artists throughout the State, established collectives and arts festivals while continuing to produce his own creative work. He developed new approaches to arts education as a member of an interdisciplinary team working in public schools, libraries, prisons, homes for the aged and community centers. He conducted workshops involving collaborative activities designed to increase the participants’ sensory and creative potential through the manipulation of materials within various environments. He taught Foundation Design at the Art Institute of Boston and at Parsons in New York City.


In 1979 Schweninger began working with Videofashion Inc. as technical director and editor, publishing the first video magazine on videocassette. Videofashion currently produces over 200 programs yearly, which are distributed internationally to over thirty countries in several languages.

Starting in 2000, Mr. Schweninger began producing television programs about artists with various collaborators.

Finished programs include: Dennis Oppenheim, Keith Sonnier, Earle Brown, CUANDO, POLARITIES, Dialogues with Artists in Cuba, LIP/FSAC