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Simone Leigh, Corrugated, 2019, bronze and raffia, H. 81 × W. 73 × D. 40 1/2 in., Donated by Thomas S. Kenan III
Inspired by architectural elements and African diasporic art, Simone Leigh’s figural sculpture has a commanding presence. It portrays Black womanhood as a powerful experience constructed around themes of fortitude and persistence. The piece’s wide, corrugated base emulates industrial materials and can be read as either a voluminous skirt or an abstract body. Leigh further abstracted the figure by removing her eyes, which results in an inwardly focused form looking beyond viewers rather than at them.
Through this sculpture, Leigh examines the complexity of Black women’s identity at the intersection of racial and gendered cultural systems. These systems require Black women to remain composed and stable despite traditional ideas of feminine fragility. Leigh’s perspective on race, gender, and power celebrates Black women’s resiliency as a tool of self-reliance. —Maya Brooks, Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator
Corrugated’s Commanding Presence
In this clip from our March Virtual Lunchtime Lecture “Change the Face: Finding Power in Identity,” Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator Maya Brooks describes the commanding presence of Simone Leigh’s sculpture Corrugated and discusses how Leigh’s works of art explore race, gender, and history.
Engage with the power and strength of Simone Leigh’s Corrugated through hands-on activities for families that celebrate Black women in history and that explore materials like clay and cardboard.
• Guggenheim Museum, “Artist Profile: Simone Leigh”: Visit the award-winning artist in her studio.
• CBS This Morning, “Artist Simone Leigh, Finally in the Spotlight, Reflects on Her Naysayers”: Meet Leigh in this April 2019 profile and see more of her exciting work.
• Roma Piotrowska, “The Venice Biennale: 10 Best Pavilions in Giardini”: In 2022 Leigh will be the first Black woman to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale. Learn more about the Biennale and explore ten of the national pavilions.
Visit NCMALearn to read further about Corrugated and find links to additional resources.
Simone Leigh’s Corrugated makes us think of the resilient southern Black women depicted in the following films, who find strength in sisterhood.
• Daughters of the Dust (1991). Director: Julie Dash. The women in a family in the Gullah community of South Carolina contemplate moving away from their roots and traditions. Watch on Criterion Channel or rent on Amazon or YouTube.
• The Color Purple (1985). Director: Steven Spielberg. After enduring years of abuse, Celie finds strength and identity with the help of other women. Rent on Amazon or YouTube.
• Eve’s Bayou (1997). Director: Kasi Lemmons. Ten-year-old Eve turns to her sister, psychic aunt, and voodoo to cope with the rift her father creates in the family. Watch on Hulu or Amazon or rent on YouTube.
Join us on April 7 from 7 to 8 pm to create responsive poetry inspired by Corrugated. Writer-scholar Jameela F. Dallis will guide you through prompts to write ekphrastic poetry, vivid descriptions of works of art. Using reflection and grounding exercises, you will encounter your own creativity through language.
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