In the two works projected on CAM’s facade, Blue Love (2020) and Redhead (2018), artist Lorna Simpson melds black-and-white photographs of a man and a woman from vintage Ebony and Jet magazines, embellished with shimmering, flame-like watercolor hairdos. In her Ebony collage series, Simpson manipulated the photographs through extreme cropping and close ups to emphasize the subjects’ faces and hair. “The notion of fragmentation, especially of the body, is prevalent in our culture, and it’s reflected in my works,” Simpson explains. “We’re fragmented not only in terms of how society regulates our bodies but in the way we think about ourselves.” Though these individuals were once posed and designed to sell products to African Americans, in Simpson’s hands they are not indebted to any particular identity or occupation. The translucent watercolor beehives, like eternal founts, prompt viewers to rethink the ways we interpret and create meaning as we engage with subjects of different races and genders.
Lorna Simpson: Heads is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Chief Curator.
Lorna Simpson (b. Brooklyn, NY) received her BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York and her MFA from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has been widely collected and exhibited by such institutions as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Studio Museum in Harlem; Aspen Art Museum; and Haus der Kunst, Munich, among many others. Her work is in the permanent collections of many prominent museums including Art Institute of Chicago; Brooklyn Museum of Art; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among many others.