Braylen Dion

My first encounter with Simone Leigh and her artwork occurred over a decade ago, and I will never forget the feelings I experienced in that moment—her art resonated with me in my heart and my core. The unique elegance, well-executed technique, and overall majesty of her work transcend the art form and captivate attention, and the message informing that work is even more powerful. For generations, Black bodies have been stereotyped, marginalized, and commodified, but Simone completely upends that narrative with her sculptures—centering the experiences of Black individuals and celebrating Black bodies, specifically female bodies, for their beauty, strength, and pride. In doing so, she inspires generations of Black women to feel empowered and to situate their experiences as central to American history and culture. Her presentation at the 2022 Venice Biennale was monumental and won her a Golden Lion, which speaks to her impact not only on the art world, but on generations to come.

Williams, who won seven Grand Slam singles titles, is a philanthropist and entrepreneur

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