|Landscape, from Anatomy of Architecture series, Simone Leigh, digital collage, 2016.|
The latest horrors on Leslie Jones' have reached an explosive breaking point.
Esmin Elizabeth Green's senseless death in a Brooklyn waiting room serves as one of the catalysts of Simone Leigh's latest work. "The Waiting Room," at New Museum, is an installation centralizing on granting women a safe, medicinal healing space.
“We feel the urgency because of what happened to the state of US health care, which is not good,” says Leigh. “From what I have observed, we have one of the worst healthcare systems internationally. And it adversely affects people of color.”Once stepping off fifth floor elevator, walking forth though dimly lit space, alluring black aligned rectangular cushions make greeting. Circular black shapes resting on solid gray floor, adjacent to each other in evenly spaced rows, serene unity matching that pleasant smell. At the end, lies a black and white image of seemingly monumental figure, firm and staring above, head held high.
|A holistic approach to health.|
At front desk, dried lavender, crushed rosebuds, and velvety hibiscus are opened, exposed to air. We are meant to hold up these large glass baubles and let our nostrils fully breathe in their
|Every Saturday is a Guided Meditation for Black Lives Matter featuring therapeutic workshops with tea prior. Acupuncture, wellness, and herbology classes are offered as well as outside exhibition hour projects. In fact, Leigh's spearheaded Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter is getting noticeable attention for bringing one hundred black artists to form an underground collective together.|
|White heavenly pillows invite viewers inside the meditation clinic where apothecary awaits.|
|Glassed natural herbs and tied cinnamon barks have pristine orderliness. They also smell sweet and fragrant.|
|This great bulk of earth and smaller jars, perhaps meant for participants to gather.|
|A black figurine girl is nestled between exposed and the contained.|
Julia, the first non-stereotypical television role for a black woman, starring the amazing Diahann Carroll, is the only short shown in Technicolor. On a repetitive cycle runs memorable phone call nurse-to-be Julia makes to Dr. Chegley. Julia's skin color has nothing to do with her credentials as a woman invested in healing and medicine. Yet at the time, this was controversial.
Leigh bringing apothecary and medicine into art, especially an art museum, is something refreshingly different. It begs a viewer to do more than staring at objects and analyzing meaning. She offers a discussion as to how is the womanly self and how are womanly others around the self-- are you well Sis?
"I don’t pretend to be a public health expert.... The project is more about remembering and honoring the work of the Black Panthers and getting back to the basics of learning how to take care of yourself. In the global south, I have noticed the use of herbs as an everyday, foundational way to care for the body. Some of the herbs in the installation are from a single block in Chinatown on Grand Street that houses several apothecaries, only a few streets from the New Museum itself. I think we have gotten to the point where we don’t realize that pharmaceuticals are in fact derived from plants, and we think the plants themselves are suspect."