Breaking down systemic barriers at the top of the art world

The year 2022 will finally see America represented at the Venice Biennale by a woman of colour, sculptor Simone Leigh.

WORDS Adam Bryce
Photography Shaniqwa Jarvis

The Venice Biennale, widely recognised as the world’s pre-eminent contemporary art exhibition, is the annual who’s who of visionaries. While the previous two American representatives were male African-American artists, were pumped to share that Simone Leigh has been selected for 2022 — the first Black female artist.

The Brooklyn-based sculptor, whose concepts explore Black women’s stories and histories, is aimed at engaging the work of Black feminist thinkers who have enlarged and transcended the limits of this democracy.

“I feel like I’m a part of a larger group of artists and thinkers who have reached critical mass. 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.” — Simone Leigh.

The announcement comes as Leigh’s light only shines brighter and brighter. In 2018, she won the Guggenheim Museum’s $100,000 Hugo Boss Prize and, in 2019, was invited to be represented by one of the world’s biggest galleries, Hauser & Wirth.

And the year 2023 will see Leigh show at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. Keep tabs on Leigh’s career as she continues to break down sysmetic barriers and shine bright.

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