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Simone Leigh: Unearthing Black Feminist Thought at the ICA Boston

Simone Leigh at the ICA Boston
Simone Leigh at the ICA Boston

Simone Leigh, a renowned American artist born in 1967 in Chicago, has been making waves in the international art scene since her representation of the United States at the prestigious 2022 Venice Biennale. Selected works from Leigh's groundbreaking Venice presentation are now making their U.S. premiere in Boston at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Accompanied by key works from throughout her career, this exhibition provides an all-encompassing look at the artist's extraordinary range in ceramic, bronze, and video.

For more than two decades, Leigh has focused her artistic talents on a polyphonic vocabulary that emphasizes Black feminist thought. This intellectual tradition places value on and centers the experiences of Black women. Leigh's work draws from a diverse array of historical periods, geographies, and artistic traditions from Africa and the African diaspora. By combining the female form with elements of domestic vessels or architecture, she highlights the often-overlooked acts of labor and care, particularly those carried out by Black women.

Clay is the primary medium in most of Leigh's creations, including her bronze sculptures, which are first modeled in clay. Through scale and a process that is entirely her own, the artist explores the boundaries of the medium and challenges conventional art histories. These traditional narratives can still attach ceramics to women's labor, decoration, domestic crafts, and utility. The exhibition traces Leigh's unique visual language, with signature motifs such as cowrie shells, braiding, rosettes, face vessels, and eyeless faces.

Accompanied by an extensive monograph, the exhibition presents a rare and well-timed chance for visitors to engage with the intricate and deeply touching work of this trailblazing artist. Simone Leigh's art transcends boundaries, offering a fresh outlook on Black feminist thought and the experiences of Black women by challenging conventional norms.

Upcoming Exhibitions:

Following its premiere in Boston, Simone Leigh's work at the ICA Boston will continue to captivate audiences as it tours to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. (November 2023–March 2024). Afterward, a joint presentation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles will take place (June 2024–January 2025). Don't miss the opportunity to experience the power and beauty of Simone Leigh's artistry as it makes its way across the United States.


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