Using advertising photographs of black women (and men) drawn from vintage issues of Ebony and Jet magazines, the collages of world-renowned artist Lorna Simpson explore the richly nuanced language of hair.
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.