This week, the High Line announced its inaugural project for its new, upcoming public art venue, the Plinth: A 16-foot-tall bronze bust of a black woman by artist Simone Leigh. Titled Brick House, the sculpture takes it title from the 1977 Motown hit by the Commodores, and portrays its subject as a monumental head, crowned with an afro wreathed in braids, surmounting a domed shaped decorated with elongated ridges.
Leigh’s sculpture could be described as a kind of homage to the strength and fortitude that African-American women have displayed in the face of adversity throughout American history, from the travails of slavery to the Black Lives Matter protests of today. It also represents the largest addition so far to the artist’s ongoing “Anatomy of Architecture” series, in which elements of the human body are paired with forms evoking houses and other structures from the Old South and various regions in Africa.
Leigh, 50, is only now starting to garner worldwide acclaim for a body of work in several mediums (sculpture, video and installation) that focuses on the intersectionality of feminism and African-American identity, and how both relate to built environments that serve as expressions of political and economic power.
Brick House is the first in a series of outdoor projects slated for the Plinth, which will occupy the center of a plaza located on the old elevated railway spur spanning the intersection of Tenth Avenue and 33rd Street. It opens in April 2019 and will remain on view until September 2020.