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Lorna Simpson Maps the Complex Galaxies of Black Women’s Hair

Black Women in Arts

Lorna Simpson Maps the Complex Galaxies of Black Women’s Hair

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The artist’s new book of collages incorporates magazine clippings, watercolor, and geological formations.

Black women’s heads of hair are galaxies unto themselves,” poet and professor Elizabeth Alexander writes in her introduction to Lorna Simpson Collages, a new book of that artist’s work. Much of Simpson’s career has been dedicated to documenting the specificity and breadth of black womanhood, and this collection continues in that vein. Black women’s hair, that fraught matter, is not simply the inspiration for this set of collages; it is the subject.

Simpson has long exhumed the ghosts of American history through her presentation of modern subjects, and the collection grants new life to images taken from magazines by layering them with multimedia flourishes and with consumer copy. Simpson’s own artist statement reflects the thorny sources she pulled from: It’s composed, she notes, entirely of “phrases culled from the …

 

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Chrysalis

I am a future butterfly at the stage of growth when I am turning into an adult. I am enclosed in a hard case shell formed by love, family, and friends. It is the hardest stage of becoming a black butterfly. You will encounter many hardships only to come out stronger and better than what you went in. At this stage, you are finding out who you truly are and how to love yourself.

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