US artist Leigh recasts colonial imagery at Venice Biennale

By Associated Press |

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Chicago-born artist Simone Leigh (Photo: Tiffany I. Smith, CC BY-SA 4.0, cropped, via Wikimedia Commons)

VENICE, Italy (AP) — American sculptor Simone Leigh is the first Black woman to headline the U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale contemporary art fair. She also sets the tone at the main Biennale exhibition. Her 16-foot bronze bust of a Black woman, titled Brick House, presides over the entrance. Such double citations are rare at the 127-year-old art fair, which opens its 59th edition on Saturday. Leigh called her exhibition of bronzes and ceramics at the U.S. Pavilion Sovereignty. The works refer specifically to the African diaspora. She topped the Palladian-style pavilion with a thatched raffia roof on wooden columns, redressing an architectural style that recalls both Jeffersonian notions of freedom and the plantation homes of slaveowners.

Colleen Barry for the Associated Press