Artist Simone Leigh poses at Stratton Sculpture Studios in Philadelphia. Leigh will be the first Black woman ever to represent the U.S. at Italy's prestigious Venice Biennale arts festival to be held in 2022. (Shaniqwa Jarvis/Simone Leigh and Hauser & Wirth via AP)

Sculptor Simone Leigh will be 1st Black woman to represent US at Venice Biennale

Simone Leigh will 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.

Simone Leigh will 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.

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

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.

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

“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.”

The Biennale, which was founded in 1895, 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.

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