American, b. 1960, Brooklyn, New York, based in Brooklyn, New York
Re-examining photography as a conceptual medium, Lorna Simpson’s works explore the experience of African American women in contemporary society. Simpson’s imagery is culled from both original photographs and those she collects from eBay and flea markets. In order to make her subjects elusive or adaptable to any narrative, Simpson rarely depicts them from the front, and instead shows them from behind or with their faces and eyes obscured or omitted. Placing an emphasis on the social and political implications of African hairstyles and textures, her 1994 piece Wigs (Portfolio) presents an almost scientific study of hairpieces, aiming to underscore the wig as a tool of conformity and agent for physical transformation. Simpson’s work often presents a fragmented or open-ended story, which the viewer is to complete based on his or her own expectations.