Sculptor Simone Leigh becomes first black woman to represent U.S. at the Venice Biennale

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Sculptor Simone Leigh
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Brooklyn-based artist, Sculptor Simone Leigh renowned for her large-scale work celebrating Black women, has made history as the first Black woman chosen to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale, one of the world’s most prestigious art and culture events. She will make her debut in 2022.

“I feel like I’m a part of a larger group of artists and thinkers who have reached critical mass,” Leigh told The New York Times. “And despite the really horrific climate that we’ve reached, it still doesn’t distract me from the fact of how amazing it is to be a Black artist right now.”

Leigh’s Venetian show, mostly composed of sculpture, “will engage the work of black feminist thinkers who have enlarged and transcended the limits of this democracy,” she explained on Instagram.

She Wrote;

Thanks for the love everyone 🖤📷 Shaniqwa Jarvis @sheekswinsalways To be the first Black American woman to occupy the American Pavilion for the 58th La Biennale di Venezia is a great honor. I acknowledge the paradox of my position during this time when the depth of white supremacy in America is in full view. I also recognize that this is a time when black artists and intellectuals of the diaspora are flourishing and have reached critical mass. My show, comprised primarily of sculpture, will engage the work of black feminist thinkers who have enlarged and transcended the limits of this democracy. Thank you Eva Respini my curator @curator_on_the_run @icaboston and my gallery @hauserwirth and Spelman College @spelman_college

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Thanks for the love everyone 🖤📷 Shaniqwa Jarvis @sheekswinsalways To be the first Black American woman to occupy the American Pavilion for the 58th La Biennale di Venezia is a great honor. I acknowledge the paradox of my position during this time when the depth of white supremacy in America is in full view. I also recognize that this is a time when black artists and intellectuals of the diaspora are flourishing and have reached critical mass. My show, comprised primarily of sculpture, will engage the work of black feminist thinkers who have enlarged and transcended the limits of this democracy. Thank you Eva Respini my curator @curator_on_the_run @icaboston and my gallery @hauserwirth and Spelman College @spelman_college

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Leigh’s Brick House statue in New York City in May 2020. [John Lamparski: Getty Images]

The presentation will run from April 23 to November 27, 2022. It’s set to be her biggest show to date.

Leigh’s work for the Biennale will feature a series of new pieces and installations, including a monumental bronze sculpture in the outdoor forecourt of the venue’s pavilion. She’ll address “an ‘incomplete archive’ of Black feminist thought, with works inspired by leading Black intellectuals,” Eva Respini, co-commissioner at the Biennale, said. “Her work insists on the centrality of Black female forms within the cultural sphere, and serves as a beacon in our moment.”

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