simone leigh - tilton gallery

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Over the past month, Artforum’s 500 Words feature has captured the as told to remarks of Simone Leigh, Melvin Edwards and Isaac Julien. The artists explain their work and share the sources and motivations behind their creativity. Each has work currently on view in exhibitions in Louisville and New York, Dallas, and Tilburg, the Netherlands, respectively.

Simon Leigh on the Sources of Her Inspiration | Artforum
Simone Leigh (whose work is featured above) explains the thrust of her practice by recounting her latest endeavors—The Free People’s Medical Clinic, a major project that was a part of “Funk, God, Jazz, and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn”; African American face jugs made of Lizella clay; and a skirt-cum-Memmy-inspired cupboard “where you can enter to eat pancakes.”

The 17-year cycle of the cicada resembles her creative approach. “A destiny to change and adapt, seems the perfect metaphor to describe my involvement with sculpture as an ongoing exploration of black female subjectivity,” Leigh says. “I am charting a history of change and adaptation through objects and gesture and the unstoppable forward movement of black women.” Leigh’s exhibition “Crop Rotation” is on view at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in Louisville through April, and at Tilton Gallery in New York “Moulting” runs through April 25.

“I am charting a history of change and adaptation through objects and gesture and the unstoppable forward movement of black women.”
— Simone Leigh, Artforum

melvin-edwards-steel-life-1985-1991
MELVIN EDWARDS, “Steel Life,” 1985-91 (welded steel). | Jacqueline Bradley and Clarence Otis. © 2015 Melvin Edwards / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, via Nasher Sculpture Center

Melvin Edwards on Sculptural Form | Artforum
Reflecting on spending five years of his childhood in Dayton, Ohio, home to Wright-Patterson Field and the Wright Brothers, Melvin Edwards says the fascinating environment helped shape his outlook. “I don’t make sculpture that looks like airplanes, but seeing the planes on exhibition at the airfield helped me understand how three-dimensional things in the world were designed, that the planes were sculptural in some way,” Edwards says. “With my sculpture, I’ve evolved independently. I understood that abstraction meant to take form and develop something else, or just start from nowhere—but also that these are all your developments and you keep it personal. My work doesn’t look like it came from another source; I make my own music.” “Melvin Edwards: Five Decades” at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas through May 10.

“Seeing the planes on exhibition at the airfield helped me understand how three-dimensional things in the world were designed.”
— Melvin Edwards, Artforum


ISAAC JULIEN, “PLAYTIME,” 2014 (teaser)

Isaac Julien on His Film Installation PLAYTIME | Artforum
Exploring the premise that migration is driven by the pursuit of capital, Isaac Julien’s seven-screen film installation focuses on six characters, archetypes based in three cities defined by major financial events and trends—London, Dubai and Reykjavik, Iceland. PLAYTIME (2014) is on view in “RIOT,” a 30-year survey of his practice at the De Pont Museum in Tilburg, the Netherlands (through May 31). “Complexities of representation” permeate the film. “My work is sincerely inauthentic. For me, the pleasure of making film lies in the manipulation of the various identifications viewers can make,” says Julien. CT

TOP IMAGE: SIMONE LEIGH, Terra cotta, porcelain, cobalt and epoxy sculpture on view in “Moulting” at Tilton Gallery, New York | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine