Lorna Simpson


The Bed (1995) Serigraph on four felt panels with one felt text panel.

Lorna Simpson was born in New York in 1960. She is considered to be a conceptual photographer who is well known for her serigraphic images onto felt, which she started in 1994. She completed both her B.A. and M.A. by 1985.

Simpson works on a very large scale in order to get her political points across. Simpson incorporates issues such as race and gender into her work, (which Simpson personally relates to and feels strongly about) Simpson’s work is about coloured women living in America. Simpson is very experimental and frequently juxtaposes images with confrontational text. Using felt in her photographs helps to engage the audience’s attention into the visible textured appearance. This contributes to the material inter- relationships. The use of felt obscures any content, adding surface detail and elements of substance. It is her depiction of reality, appearance and identity, questioning the audience’s memory and representation of the subject. In the series, she removes the human presence as character or subject feature so that we are looking at the atmospheric environment, which surrounds someone’s life in an almost sculptural form, provoking a narrative from the lack of human presence.

Simpson uses many visual metaphors transforming stories of victims. The figure/character of woman of colour helps Simpson project. She articulates her opinions especially relating to stereotypes, aiming to expand the perceptions of others.

Simpson inspires me to be experimental with my project. I wish to incorporate different surfaces especially felt, as the texture of felt resonates with the feeling of itching I have. The aim is to capture how all the fabrics felt on my skin, regardless of fabric but exaggerated by woolly materials. It also instils the idea to make part of the bed out of a textured material. Using the transfer prints onto cotton sheets then folding over the textured material (like a felt blanket) integrating the concept of dimensions, my aim will be to will help build upon the clinical ambience. The inspiration that Simpson gives me is to create my own metaphoric language of my diagnosis, for Lymphoma suffers and generally to help raise awareness but also for the public to appreciate. I want to remove the human presence just like Simpson. As a practitioner, I realised very early on when starting this project (through the sheer shock of discovering the disease and not knowing what it was) I wanted others to know and be educated about the disease. I hope by removing the human presence it will achieve a metaphor that human presence can be lost to the disease. I want it to draw upon that the story does not just affect me singularly but that it can affect anybody; I want the disease to be known and represented and exhibited in the public eye, especially as humans fear most what he or she fails to understand. I have chosen to add objects; it will add a more complex meaning to the images, which can become hard to grasp, as the objects will be seemingly out of place. I will visually encapsulate lymphoma through my photographic images it will be necessary to make them physical as I believe viewers like a tangible presence.

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