Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lorna Simpson Photographer

Lorna Simpson is definitely an artist worth following (and works are worth acquiring). Lorna Simpson is a photographer and artist. Her art usually shows photos of mostly African-American women combined with text to express present society's relationships with race, ethnicity and sex.

Lorna was born in New York, she attended the High School of Art and Design where me met. Later attending Visual Arts in New York and then at the University of California, San Diego. We were fortunate to become friends early in life. More fortunate am I to watch her career develop, even if we don't always remain in close contact. I have always continued to support her work and smile from afar. Winking at her accolades, smiling ear to ear.

Her earliest work was as a documentary street photographer, before moving her observations of race and society into her studio. Simpson began exploring ethnic divisions in the 1980's era of multiculturalism. Her most notable works combine words with photographs of anonymously cropped images of women and occasionally men. While the pictures may appear straightforward, the text will often confront the viewer with the underlying racism still found in American culture.

Simpson's 1989 work, Necklines, shows two identical photographs of a black woman's mouth, chin, neck, and collar bone. The white text, “ring, surround, lasso, noose, eye, areola, halo, cuffs, collar, loop”, individual words on black plaques, imply menace, binding or worse. The final phrase, text on red “feel the ground sliding from under you,” openly suggests lynching, though the adjacent images remain serene, non-confrontational and elegant.

Lorna Simpson has explored developing her photographs on large felt panels as well producing as video works such as Call Waiting (1997). She was the first Black woman to participate at the Venice Biennale. In a recent work, Corridor (2003), Simpson sets two women side-by-side; a household servant from 1860 and a wealthy homeowner from 1960. Both women are portrayed by artist Wangechi Mutu, allowing parallel and haunting relationships to be drawn.

Lorna's work has also been presented at the Whitney Museum and MOMA in New York City, Walker Art Center to name a few.

Seeing a friends success is like milk... It does a body good!

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