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A World of Art

Biographical Sketch: Lorna Simpson


Lorna Simpson
Lorna Simpson was born in 1960 in Brooklyn, New York. She was trained at the School of Visual Arts in New York and then at the University of California, San Diego. She began her career as a documentary photographer and, though her work maintains its roots in the documentary photography tradition, addressing themes of cultural, political, and social significance, it has moved farther and farther from photography per se. She is best known for her series of life-size "portraits" of African-American women in which most of the models' facial features "twist" or problematize the image itself. An example is Necklines.

Simpson's ability to challenge the meaning of the visual image by means of her texts is matched by her desire to challenge our expectations about photography itself. In the mid-1990s, for instance, she began to experiment with printing her images on felt, as opposed to glossy photographic paper. Where photographs normally seem to reflect light, her images on felt seem to absorb it. She continues to experiment with printing techniques, questions of size and scale, and the relationship between the image and the viewer--so much so that it is increasingly difficult to think of her as simply a photographer. Her art, rather, approaches painting, sculpture, and even film, in its relation to its audience.

 

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