|Simone Leigh. Photo via ebony.com.|
jam packed and jelly tight
May 1 - June 23, 2012
8 East 76th Street
New York, NY
Simone Leigh engages in an object-based, sculptural exploration of female African American subjectivity, informed by both ancient African and African American object-making. Her work is at once highly abstracted and grounded in timeless recognizable objects, such as the pottery jar or cowrie shell. Using pre-historical ceramic techniques, Leigh challenges the boundaries between art and craft, between past and present. Her ceramic objects, often juxtaposed with emblems of modern technology (such as the television antenna), simultaneously evoke archaic and futuristic forms. Past, future and present are compressed into a single artwork.
Leigh's sophisticated contemporary sensibility turns her own evocation of the past on its head. She not only challenges our current prevalent attitudes towards ceramics as a decorative art, but subverts it entirely by pushing her images to the conceptual edge of contemporary abstraction.
A deep interest in the anonymity of women's piece-work has evolved into an obsessive repetition of form, whether in the hand-crafted roses, made petal by petal, that crown both sculpted heads and abstract shapes, or in the glazed and fired cowrie shells made from watermelon molds that join in over-sized hanging chandelier-like sculptures and evoke both ancient artifacts and open-ended metaphors for the female body. Leigh has seemingly assimilated all of the female history of object-making into her own art-making process. Her installations convey a sense of timeless drama, while revealing the intensity of her own subjective struggles.
Simone Leigh recently completed a one-person exhibition at The Kitchen, New York and has shown her work at the Sculpture Center, Queens, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York and the Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna among many other venues. She has been an Artist in Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem as well as at Hunter College and the Henry Street Settlement. In 2011 Leigh was the recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant for Sculptors and in 2012 received the Creative Capital Grant for Visual Arts. Leigh lives and works in Brooklyn.