Brooklyn-based artist Lorna Simpson combines images of black men and women pulled from vintage advertising photos with bright ink washes to give her subjects kaleidoscopic hairstyles erupting with color. The photographs are snipped from old issues of Ebony and Jet magazines and are either layered with ink or found textbook imagery like crystalized growths to explore the deep and varied language of hair. In one piece the subject is adorned with a thick slab of rock, while in another a cross-section of a human brain acts as the subject’s coiffed hairstyle.
Over 150 of these collages have been compiled in her recent book Lorna Simpson Collages, out early next month through Chronicle Books. The volume contains an artist’s statement and an introduction by poet, author, and scholar Elizabeth Alexander who explains, “Black women’s heads of hair are galaxies unto themselves, solar systems, moonscapes, volcanic interiors.”