Simone Leigh

National Sculpture Society presents the Herbert Adams Memorial Award to Simone Leigh. First given in 1947, the Herbert Adams Memorial Medal is awarded as the occasion arises for service to American sculpture, or to a sculptor for outstanding achievement. The awards committee nominated Simone Leigh this year in recognition of her contributions to the world of Sculpture and for starting a powerful conversation through sculpture.

This year, Simone Leigh made history at the Venice Biennale as the first Black woman to ever represent the United States. For her exhibition there, Leigh was recognized as Best Participant with the highest honor, a Golden Lion. In 2023, her first museum survey exhibition will start at the ICA/Boston and will subsequently tour museums throughout the United States. The chair of the Honors and Awards Committee, Amy Kann, stated, “Simone Leigh is changing the way people look at sculpture; she is a remarkable force who is making people think about sculpture differently.”

Leigh uses a variety of media, including ceramic, video, installation, and bronze to explore issues of identity, race, and feminism. In 1990, Leigh received a BA in fine art with a minor in philosophy from Earlham College, Richmond, IN. A semester as an intern at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. led to an interest in the inaccurate presentations of items related to the African diaspora. Her work has been featured at the Park Avenue Armory (NYC) , the New Museum (NYC), the Hammer Museum in (Los Angeles, CA), The Studio Museum (Harlem, NY) and the 2019 Whitney Biennial (NYC).

The Herbert Adams Memorial Award is an engraved medal designed by Thomas G. Lo Medico and a hand-lettered certificate. Past recipients include Adeline Pond Adams (1947), Lee Lawrie (1954), Philip Johnson (1984), Charlotte Dunwiddie (1990), Raymond D. Nasher (2004), Nina Akamu (2009), and most recently, Meredith Bergmann (2021).

In 1893, leading U.S. sculptors and architects founded the National Sculpture Society to “spread the knowledge of good sculpture” throughout the country. Founding members created most of this nation’s public monuments at the turn of the last century. NSS was incorporated in 1896 and received tax-exemption status as a 501(c)(3) organization in 1939. Professional sculptors and architects continue to lead the organization in fulfilling its mission today. The award presentation will take place on June 4th and is part of the annual NSS Sculpture Conference, June 3-5 in Stockbridge, MA.