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Seeing Butterflies

At the Venice Biennale, artist Simone Leigh centers experience of Black women

Black Women in Arts

At the Venice Biennale, artist Simone Leigh centers experience of Black women

by Lauren Williams via https://www.wbur.org/

When you get to St. Mark’s Square in Venice, take a right towards the Adriatic Sea. Then follow the water south, over ancient bridges, and past the city’s lively terraces. Soon enough, you’ll run right into the Giardini Biennale, the grounds which have hosted the Venice Biennale since 1895. The event is a massive international production — equal parts exhibition of some of the world’s foremost artists, a business conference and a diplomatic affair.

The Biennale grounds are dotted with buildings called pavilions, constructed by various nations. Israel sits next to the United States, and Hungary is a stone’s throw away. Most of the buildings looked the same as in past years. But…0

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Chrysalis

I am a future butterfly at the stage of growth when I am turning into an adult. I am enclosed in a hard case shell formed by love, family, and friends. It is the hardest stage of becoming a black butterfly. You will encounter many hardships only to come out stronger and better than what you went in. At this stage, you are finding out who you truly are and how to love yourself.

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What Does It Mean To Be “Black Butterfly Beautiful”

The image of the butterfly has come to define the many expressions of the feminine black consciousness and for a good reason. The butterfly is the perfect articulation of the exquisite beauty of nature. Whether tiny or large, brightly colored or more subdued, the butterfly’s allure is undeniable. Each one displays its own unique patterns and hues, and no one species outshines any other.

Similarly, there is no one ideal image of a black woman -- each is gorgeous in her right. All African-Americans share a glorious history of struggle and perseverance that has funneled into the modern black renaissance. And, like the graceful butterfly, the awakened black woman exemplifies the dazzling beauty of that cultural evolution.

Flying High

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