Who Is the Activist Sculptor Simone Leigh?

Hugo Boss Prize 2018 Artists Dinner At The Guggenheim Museum

Eileen Kinsella (Artnet) writes, “Look for her work across New York next year and catch the final day of her Chelsea show.” See below 3 out of 5 things that you should know about the artist, according to Kinsella. However, a 6th point should be that, because Leigh grew up in a Jamaican household, in her exploration of the African diaspora, she often focuses on the Caribbean, specifically, on Jamaican culture. This comes through in some of her series and exhibition titles, such as “…if you wan fo’ lick old woman pot, you scratch him back” (Jamaican proverb). For more examples, see her artist’s page. [Also see our previous post, Simone Leigh wins Guggenheim’s Hugo Boss Prize/.]

Chicago-born artist Simone Leigh is having quite a year. On Thursday, she won the prestigious Hugo Boss Prize for 2018, the latest in a string of accolades including art prizes, prestigious commissions, and solo exhibitions. The award comes with $100,000 and a solo show at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, slotted for this April. Leigh, who is the 12th artist to receive the award, was selected by a jury of international critics and curators. The award, made possible by fashion designer Hugo Boss, was established in 1996 to recognize significant achievement in contemporary art and is overseen by the Guggenheim.

Though Leigh’s star has been rising fast, audiences beyond the contemporary art world are just beginning to become familiar with her oeuvre. There will be plenty of chances to see her work in New York in multiple locations in the coming year. In the meantime, here are five things to know about the artist.

  1. She focuses on African art and ethnography.

Leigh’s practice—including sculpture, video, and installation—reflects her ongoing exploration of black female subjectivity and ethnography. Her artworks frequently incorporate materials and forms traditionally associated with African art and the African diaspora, while her performance-related installations often blend historical precedent with personal stories.

At the most recent edition of the Art Dealers Association of America-backed Art Show at the Park Avenue Armory, Leigh presented a row of eye-catching ceramic female busts with rosette heads and torsos fashioned out of raffia palm. They quickly sold out, the New York Times reported, to prominent contemporary collector and FLAG Art Foundation founder Glenn Fuhrman. Other buyers took notice and it “may have been the moment” when the artist moved into the mainstream, the Times said.

  1. She is the inaugural artist for the High Line’s new “Plinth” program.

Leigh, who now lives and works in Brooklyn, was the first artist selected for the High Line’s new “Plinth” program, a rotating series of large-scale artworks that will be installed on the elevated park on the far West Side of Manhattan at Tenth Avenue and West 30th Street. For the Plinth, Leigh created Brick House, a 16-foot-tall bronze bust of a black woman whose torso is conflated with the shape of a skirt and a clay house. The figure will stand tall on the Plinth, looking out over Tenth Avenue. The April unveiling will coincide with her Guggenheim show,

  1. The Hugo Boss Prize is just the tip of the awards iceberg.

In addition to the Hugo Boss Prize, the artist has received a Foundation for Contemporary Art Grant (2018), a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (2016), and the Anonymous Was a Woman Award (2016). Beyond awards, her work has been in high demand for the last few years. She was included in the New Museum’s “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and as a Weapon” (2017), as well as “The Waiting Room” (2016) and Creative Time’s project, The Free People’s Medical Clinic (2014). She also had a solo exhibition at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in 2016.

See full article at https://news.artnet.com/exhibitions/artist-simone-leigh-hugo-boss-1376050

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