Lorna Simpson (American, b.1960) is a photographer and filmmaker who was born in Brooklyn, NY. She began her career as a documentary photographer, traveling through the United States, Europe, and Africa during the late 1970s. Afterwards, Simpson attended the School of Visual Arts, in New York, and received a BFA in Photography in 1982. In 1985, she earned a MFA from the University of California, San Diego.
Simpson is celebrated for her conceptual works, which blend photography with text and video to explore history, gender, identity, fact, fiction, culture, and race in America. In Call Waiting, a 12 minute black-and-white film accompanied by gelatin silver prints and text, she shows various people having conversations in different languages. This work showcases Simpson’s indirect way of engaging the viewer in questions about identity and human interaction.
Simpson often uses images of African-American women in her work, sometimes reappropriating segregation era photographs, as a way to explore gender, culture, and experiences. In her Necklines series, groups of two or three photographs show African-American women with only their necklines showing and text inserted around the images. In 1993, Simpson was the first black American women to be exhibited at the Venice Biennale.
The artist’s works have been exhibited in museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. She has had several solo exhibitions at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Miami Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. She is represented by the Salon94 Gallery in New York City. Simpson currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.