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Simone Leigh (born 1967) is an American artist from Chicago who works in New York City in the United States.[1] She works in various media including sculpture, video installation and social practice. Leigh has described her work as auto-ethnographic, and her interests include African art and vernacular objects, performance, and feminism.[2] Her work is concerned with the marginalization of women of color and reframes their experience as central to society.[1][3]

Simone Leigh
Simone Leigh
Simone Leigh working on a sculpture
Born1967 (age 51–52)
Alma materEarlham College

Early life and careerEdit

Leigh was born to Jamaican parents and received a BA in Art and Philosophy from Earlham College in 1990.[4][5]

The artist combines her training in American ceramics with an interest in African pottery, using African motifs which tend to have modernist characteristics. She describes this combination representing "a collapsing of time."[6] Her work has been described as part of a generation's reimagining of ceramics in a cross-disciplinary context.[7] She has given artist lectures in many institutions nationally[8][9][10] and internationally, and has taught in the ceramics department of the Rhode Island School of Design.[11]

Works and critical receptionEdit

Leigh has exhibited internationally including: MoMA PS1, Walker Art Center, Studio Museum in Harlem, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, The Hammer Museum, The Kitchen, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Tilton Gallery, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, SculptureCenter, Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna, L'appartement 22 in Rabat, Morocco, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, and the Association for Visual Arts Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa.[12] Leigh organized an event with a group of women artists, who performed in "Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter" part of her solo exhibition, The Waiting Room at the New Museum in 2016.[13][14] Leigh's work was selected among "the most important and relevant work" by curators Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley for the 2019 Whitney Biennial.[15][16]

Simone Leigh is the creator of the Free People's Medical Clinic a social practice project created with Creative Time in 2014.[17] The installation was located in a 1914 Bed-Stuy brownstone called the Stuyvesant Mansion, previously owned by notable African-American doctor Josephine English (1920–2011). As an homage to this history, Leigh created a walk-in health center with yoga, nutrition and massage sessions, staffed by volunteers in 19th-century nurse uniforms.[18]

She is the recipient of many awards, including: a Guggenheim Fellowship; The Herb Alpert Award; a Creative Capital grant; a Blade of Grass Fellowship; the Studio Museum in Harlem's Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize; the Guggenheim Museum's Hugo Boss Prize; United States Artists fellowship; and a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists award (2018).[19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26] Her work has been written about in many publications, including Art In America, Artforum, Sculpture Magazine, Modern Painters, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Small Axe, and Bomb magazine.[27][28][29][30][31][32]

The Waiting RoomEdit

The Waiting Room was exhibited at the New Museum in New York City from June to September 2016.[33] This exhibition honors Esmin Elizabeth Green, who died from blood clots after sitting in a waiting room of a Brooklyn hospital for 24 hours, and provides an alternative vision of health care shaped by female, African-American experience.[34] In an interview with the Guardian, Leigh says "obedience is one of the main threats to black women's health" and "what happened to Green is an example of the lack of empathy people have towards the pain of black women."[34] The Waiting Room involved public and private care sessions from different traditions of medicine such as herbalism, meditation rooms, movement studios, and other holistic approaches to healthcare. Outside of museum hours this exhibition became "The Waiting Room Underground" providing free, private workshops outside of the public eye, an homage to the healthcare work of the Black Panthers and the United Order of Tents.[34] Additionally this exhibition featured lectures; workshops on self-defense, home economics, and self-awareness; Taiko drumming lessons for LGBTQ youth, and summer internships with the museum for teens.[34] This work came after and is related to Leigh's previous project Free People's Medical Clinic (2014).[35]

Brick House by Simone Leigh

Selected exhibitionsEdit


  1. ^ a b "Simone Leigh: The Waiting Room". Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  2. ^ Grimes, William. 2015, "Distinct Prisms in an Ever-Shifting Kaleidoscope", The New York Times, April 16.
  3. ^ "Simone Leigh :: Foundation for Contemporary Arts". Retrieved 2019-09-06.
  4. ^ "Simone Leigh". Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  5. ^ "Simone Leigh". Guggenheim Museum – Collections Online. Retrieved 2019-09-06.
  6. ^ "Artist Simone Leigh Has Joined Luhring Augustine Gallery | Culture Type". Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  7. ^ "25 Most Collectible Midcareer Artists: Simone Leigh | Artinfo". Artinfo. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  8. ^ "Simone Leigh". School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  9. ^ "Parsons Fine Arts Visiting Artists Lecture Series - Weds 9/16 - Simone Leigh". Art, Media, & Technology. 2015-09-14. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  10. ^ "Art and Practice with Simone Leigh | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  11. ^ "No Fear of Failure". Our RISD. Retrieved 2019-03-13.
  12. ^ "Simone Leigh | Ceramics | Academics | RISD". Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  13. ^ Best, Tamara (2016-09-02). "At New Museum, a Pop-Up Support System for Black Lives Matter". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-12-10.
  14. ^ "Hammer Projects: Simone Leigh - Hammer Museum". The Hammer Museum. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
  15. ^ "Whitney Biennial 2019".
  16. ^ Pogrebin, Robin; Sheets, Hilarie M. (2018-08-29). "An Artist Ascendant: Simone Leigh Moves Into the Mainstream". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-09-06.
  17. ^ Davis, Samara. 2015. "Room for Care." TDR: The Drama Review 59, no. 4: 169–176.
  18. ^ Cotter, Holland (2014-10-07). "'Funk, God, Jazz & Medicine,' Black Heritage in Brooklyn". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  19. ^ "Simone Leigh | The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts". 2016-04-29. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
  20. ^ "Creative Capital - Investing in Artists who Shape the Future". Retrieved 2017-02-10.
  21. ^ "A Blade of Grass Announces 2016 Fellows for Socially Engaged Art". Retrieved 2017-02-11.
  22. ^ Greenberger, Alex (2017-10-31). "Simone Leigh Wins Studio Museum in Harlem's $50,000 Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize". ARTnews. Retrieved 2017-11-20.
  23. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Simone Leigh". Retrieved 2017-02-10.
  24. ^ The Editors of ARTnews (2018-10-18). "Simone Leigh Wins the 2018 Hugo Boss Prize". ARTnews. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  25. ^ Greenberger, Alex (2019-01-22). "United States Artists Names 2019 Fellows, Including Firelei Báez, Wu Tsang, and Cecilia Vicuña". ARTnews. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  26. ^ "Who Is the Activist Sculptor Simone Leigh? Here Are 5 Things to Know About This Year's Hugo Boss Prize Winner". artnet News. 2018-10-19. Retrieved 2019-09-06.
  27. ^ "Going Underground: An Interview with Simone Leigh - Interviews - Art in America". 2015-08-20. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
  28. ^ Simmons, William (March 5, 2015). "500 Words Simone Leigh". Artforum.
  29. ^ Puleo, Risa (June 2016). ""Simone Leigh" Modern Painters". Modern Painters.
  30. ^ "Simone Leigh: The Waiting Room". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
  31. ^ Grimes, William (2015-04-16). "Distinct Prisms in an Ever-Shifting Kaleidoscope". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
  32. ^ "BOMB Magazine — Simone Leigh by Malik Gaines". Retrieved 2017-03-12.
  33. ^ "Simone Leigh: The Waiting Room". Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  34. ^ a b c d Sayej, Nadja (2016-06-29). "Simone Leigh's The Waiting Room: art that tries to heal black women's pain". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  35. ^ "Simone Leigh "The Waiting Room"". Retrieved 2017-03-11.
  36. ^ "Hammer Projects: Simone Leigh". Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  37. ^ "Psychic Friends Network with Simone Leigh". Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  38. ^ "Simone Leigh: The Waiting Room". Retrieved 2016-12-10.
  39. ^ "Simone Leigh - Exhibitions - Luhring Augustine". Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  40. ^ "Hugo Boss Prize 2018: Simone Leigh". Guggenheim. 2018-06-19. Retrieved 2019-01-04.

External linksEdit