Frame of Mind: Lorna Simpson

Lorna Simpson was born in Brooklyn, New York and she attended the High School of Art and Design and the School of Visual Arts in New York, and then the University of California, San Diego. Her earliest work was as a documentary street photographer, before moving her observations of race and society into her studio. Simpson began exploring ethnic divisions in the 1980s era of multiculturalism. Her most notable works combine words with photographs of anonymously cropped images of women and occasionally men. While the pictures may appear straightforward, the text will often confront the viewer with the underlying racism still found in American culture. I fell in love with the featured piece Mixed Grey (c. 2012) while attending the Expo Chicago in 2012. Simpson’s work consistently discusses gender and racial identities. I decided to create a dressing room collage inspired by this featured artwork. When we wake up in the morning, that is one of the definite time we are likely to examine our exteriors selves and scrutinize our flaws or gifts.


I started with a 1) Vespers pendant by Arteriors. It reminded me of an Ulysses Dove choreography piece by the same name that was first performed by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in 1987. Simpson’s work and the choreography in Vespers explore the power of African-American women.

Like many of Dove’s works, Vespers has a stark, ferocious quality. Mikel Rouse’s percussive score matches the dancers’ insistent drive as they propel themselves across the stage between rows of straight-back chairs. The Village Voice pronounced it “an exemplary vehicle for six Ailey women, showing off their streamlined power and how coldly they can burn.”

The piece is titled “Mixed Grey” so I naturally wanted to add some grey pieces including this 2) Stickaround Armchair from CB2 and this 3) Rocco round leather ottoman. I also found a charming Gold mirrored table top tray from Cost Plus World Market (one of my favorite destinations for inexpensive and unique home accessories.) The lines in the tray pair well with this 4) Aqua Trellis rug from Shop Ten 25. Identity requires reflection, and nothing reflects like this 5) Hayworth Vanity from Pier 1. Also adding to the beautiful lines in the gold mirrored tray and the trellis rug is this gilded wood open-work screen also from Arteriors. For some table top accessories, I’ve decided on a 6) Jester vase from CB2 and a Dru sculpture from Arteriors. Every vanity deserves a secret place to house all of your jewels. This 7) Parquet jewelry box from Jayson Home compliments the natural colors in Simpson’s piece.

What pieces would you add to this room?

Also, check out Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre’s performance of Vespers below:

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