Simone Leigh is renowned for creating artworks that transcend race and gender to celebrate Black women and give them a voice. Now she's sculpting her way into history.

She'll be the first Black woman ever to represent the U.S. at the prestigious Venice Biennale arts festival, the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art said Wednesday.

Leigh, who lives in New York City and gives interviews infrequently, declined to comment — but it’s clear that the national reckoning with racial injustice has been on her mind.

“I’m so looking forward to a respite from this climate we are living through,” she said in a recent Instagram post.

The Chicago native is creating a new series of sculptures for the U.S. pavilion at the 59th Biennale to be held in 2022, said the Boston museum, which is organizing a major exhibition of Leigh's work to be displayed in 2023.

Leigh originally was to appear at next year's Biennale, but the coronavirus pandemic prompted organizers to delay the 2021 edition by a year, Institute of Contemporary Art spokesperson Margaux Leonard told The Associated Press.

"At such a crucial moment in history, I can think of no better artist to represent the United States,” ICA director Jill Medvedow said in a statement.

“Over the course of two decades, Simone Leigh has created an indelible body of work that centers the experiences and histories of Black women," she said, calling Leigh's work “probing, timely and urgent.”

Founded in 1895, the every-other-year Biennale has become a leading venue for artists worldwide to call attention to war, racism, poverty, human trafficking and other issues preoccupying the planet.

Eva Respini, the ICA's chief curator, said Leigh's sculptures for the Biennale will highlight Black feminist thought, include works inspired by leading Black intellectuals and serve as “a beacon in our moment.”

Leigh, 53, is known for edgy, bold forms that draw from themes in African art. “Brick House,” her towering 16-foot-tall (5-meter-tall) bronze bust of a Black woman with braids, is currently installed on Manhattan's elevated High Line greenway.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for visiting the Daily Journal.

Please purchase an Enhanced Subscription to continue reading. To continue, please log in, or sign up for a new account.

We offer one free story view per month. If you register for an account, you will get two additional story views. After those three total views, we ask that you support us with a subscription.

A subscription to our digital content is so much more than just access to our valuable content. It means you’re helping to support a local community institution that has, from its very start, supported the betterment of our society. Thank you very much!