2022 Venice

Official U.S. Presentation, 59th International
Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia

April 23–
November 27, 2022

Commissioned by the
Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston


U.S. Flag U.S. Department of State seal

Simone Leigh is presented by the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston in partnership with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

Educational partners

Spelman College

The ICA is partnering with Spelman College to offer a two-semester seminar to immerse students in the art and ideas of Simone Leigh, and introduce them to the history of the U.S. Pavilion and the organization of the Leigh exhibition there as part of the 2022 Venice Biennale. The fall seminar is entitled “Simone Leigh, Art & Theory,” and is taught by julia elizabeth neal. The curriculum includes foundational written and visual sources to “provide a broad context for, and cultivate a rich understanding of, the concepts and aesthetics framing Leigh’s work and practice. Topics include Black feminist theories, social practice and sculpture, visual traditions with African diasporic cultures, and performance art.” Eleven students from across the college and the AUC Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective are participating.

An art historian and Ph.D. candidate in modern and contemporary U.S. and African-American Art at the University of Texas at Austin, neal specializes in modern and contemporary art in the United States, and her research focuses on conceptual and performance-based practices by Black artists engaging politics of identity and (trans)nationalism since the “post-war” era. neal is currently completing a dissertation on Fluxus artist and co-founder Benjamin Patterson (1934-2016), an African-American double-bassist who relocated to Germany after 1989.

Pavilion co-commissioners Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director of the ICA, and Eva Respini, ICA Barbara Lee Chief Curator, are participating in the seminar as guest lecturers, as are Valerie Cassel Oliver, Sydney and Francis Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts; Pamela Council, New York-based interdisciplinary artist; and Dr. Stephanie Sparling Williams, Professor and Associate Curator at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. Students will also have a virtual studio tour and class with Simone Leigh.

Spelman College, a historically Black college and global leader in the education of women of African descent, is dedicated to academic excellence in the liberal arts and sciences and the intellectual, creative, ethical, and leadership development of its students. Spelman empowers the whole person to engage the many cultures of the world and inspires a commitment to positive social change.

Peggy Guggenheim Collection

To amplify the reach and impact of this project on the young people of the city of Venice, the ICA is partnering with the Peggy Guggenheim Collection to offer a four-day paid professional development opportunity for 24 middle and high-school educators in the Veneto region.

These teachers will form a learning community to explore the work of Simone Leigh using a multidisciplinary arts engagement approach rooted in the ICA’s nationally recognized teen arts education model and informed by the Peggy Guggenheim Collection’s educational program. The workshop will connect visual and verbal learning and bring together teachers of various disciplines. All workshops will be held in both Italian and English.

Participating educators will make art with professional artists, attend special tours of the U.S. Pavilion and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, engage in critical conversations, and perform original written work. The teachers will create curriculum designed to inspire, empower, and educate their students. This curriculum, and resources co-developed by the ICA and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, will be shared broadly to invite educators in Italy and the U.S.

Robust arts education is critical to building the next generation of artists, leaders, and citizens. The art of Simone Leigh will be a vehicle for these teachers in empowering Venice’s young people to develop knowledge of self and the world around them.