Sculptor Simone Leigh's art is elegant, stirring and boldly original. As her work continues to captivate the public with its worldview centered on the Black female gaze, Leigh has been given a huge honor reserved for only the best artists in the country. She has been chosen to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale art festival in 2022. In doing so, she becomes the first Black woman to ever do so.
ARTnews broke the story and revealed that the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston will be commissioning the pavilion with cooperation involving the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, with ICA Director Jill Medvedow and Chief Curator Eva Respini leading the project.
The Venice Biennale is the world's biggest art festival. Leigh's presentation will run from April 23 to November 27 of that year. In 2023, it will run at an ICA show which will be her biggest survey show so far.
In a statement to ARTnews, Medvedow explained her excitement for the upcoming exhibition by the artist. "This is an area where the United States productively works with all other countries around the globe, and there's no better artist for our time," she said.
ARTnews reports that Leigh's Venice Biennale pavilion will feature new sculptures, such as a "monumental bronze sculpture" that will be "situated outside of the pavilion." Additionally, there will be works that are made from three of Leigh's staple working materials: raffia, bronze, and ceramic.
In addition to the work for the Biennale project, Leigh will also be working with Spelman's College's Atlanta University Center Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective to help create an institutional pipeline for Black curators and scholars.
On Instagram, Leigh celebrated the news. "To be the first Black American woman to occupy the American Pavilion for the 58th La Biennale di Venezia is a great honor," she wrote. "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."