Simpson’s work is distinctive, the patterns of her photography and collages often immediately recognizable. Simpson’s images operate in concert with the texts that frequently share their plane—her art is a study in meticulous harmony. From its first pages, Lorna Simpson Collages sets forth the artist’s multidisciplinary lens ... Simpson’s eye magnifies her subjects with curiosity and tenderness; her hand doesn’t flinch as she catalogs shifts in hair, clothing, social strata. Collages of women greet the viewer with piercing eyes; with their hair manipulated beyond the colloquial definition of natural, the women’s faces take center stage. Simpson’s subjects observe even as they are studied. She focuses her attention on the mundane; in the process, she excavates the sublime ... The smartest trick of Collages isn’t that Simpson forces us to examine her subjects’ phantasmagoric tresses. It’s that the follicular mysticism directs our gaze somewhere else entirely: toward the women’s faces.
The images [in Lorna Simpson Collages] are colorful and wondrous... The women and men in the collages are adorned in diamonds and pearls, and their hair is comprised of things like gold or bold blue and orange brush strokes ... there is a subtext of political strife.
[Lorna Simpson Collages] lets you grapple with spender, complexity, discomfort that you might experience from the juxtaposition of photorealistic faces and abstract ink washes, geological formations, and other unexpected interpretations of black hair.
[The characters created in Lorna Simpson Collages] are no longer models for lifestyle stories, but sites of inspiration, artistic and otherwise ... [Simpson] is able to show her bold and confident hand. Simpson’s deftly drawn hairstyles become markers of strong psychological revealing, and deeply personal expression.
There’s a real joy to be gleaned from the collages, the near-tenderness with which Simpson adorns her subjects.... Simpson is in [her subjects], though she’s always toed the line between autobiography and storytelling narrative, that space where the two collapse into each other. The binary between them is dissolvable and soluble, like paint.
The collages, reproduced one per page within, pair raw gemstones with photographs, mostly of black women, collected from vintage advertisements. The women’s hair are made up of the crystalline or shiny black stones, honoring the multidimensional quality of natural hair ... Simpson’s collages maintain an element of surprise and visual power page after page.