Biography Of Lorna Simpson –Everything You Need To Know About Lorna Simpson

Biography Of Lorna Simpson –Everything You Need To Know About Lorna Simpson

Biography Of Lorna Simpson –Everything You Need To Know About Lorna Simpson


Lorna Simpson is an American artist cum photographer born August 13, 1960. With her notable works including photo-collages, films and photo-text installations, Simpson is a versatile professional skilled in photography, drawing and painting. She is most widely acclaimed for her impactful works in the aspect of conceptual photography. Some of the artworks which brought her into the limelight include Square Deal and Guarded Conditions.

For the most part, and particularly through her early work, Simpson has been widely viewed as one with powerful artworks that strongly address critical themes including gender, race, history and indentity. Meanwhile, Simpson’s diverse works –including drawings, films, photographs, sculptures, paintings and videos –have strongly portrayed the aforementioned themes with respect to history.

Simpson is especially notable for how some of her works critically address race or gender-related stereotypes involving African-American women.

Family and Early Life

Lorna Simpson, America's Most Defiant Conceptual Artist, Makes A Radical Change—To Painting | Vogue
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Lorna Simpson was born into a family of mixed parents comprising an African-American mother and a Jamaican-Cuban father. Simpson’s parents relocated from the Midwest to New York where Lorna was eventually brought up. While growing up with her parents in Brooklyn, New York, Simpson was generously exposed to a sort of artistic lifestyle. On many occasions, she accompanied her parents to concerts, plays, dance shows and museums.


To fuel the artistic interest she must have developed through attending numerous entertainments, growing Simpson enrolled in courses at the Art Institute of Chicago during summers.

Academic Background

Lorna Simpson is a well-reputed photographer and artist with a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) and an MFA (Master of Fine Arts). She earned her BFA in Painting from New York City’s School of Visual Arts in 1982 while the MFA in visual arts was awarded to her in 1985 by the University of California.

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It’s noteworthy that Simpson has embarked on adventurous travels to Africa, the US and Europe. It was in the course of these travels that she felt the need to nurture her skills beyond the purview of photography. She thereupon spread her tentacles to the field of graphic design.

During her education at San Diego’s University of California, Simpson dangled between conceptual art and photography. Meanwhile, her teachers at this university seemed to be experts from differing fields including film making, poetry, performance art and conceptual art. Some of Simpson’s teachers at University of California were namely Eleanor Antin (a performance artist), David Antin (a poet), Babatte Mangolte (a filmmaker) and Allan Kaprow (a conceptual artist).


By courtesy of the diverse knowledge she had gained, Simpson was able to bring a new dimension into documentary photography. This was reflected in her distinct “photo-text” style which combines studio-like portraiture and graphic text. Simpson’s works, in this regard, excellently demonstrate her critical analysis of race or gender-related stereotypes involving African-American women.

Marital Life

Lorna Simpson was in a marriage to James Casebere (an artist) between 2007 and 2018. The union between the two artists (Simpson and Casebere) yielded a child named Zora Casebere.

Zora, daughter of Lorna Simpson, is an Instagram personality cum artist.

Personal Life/View

Lorna Simpson is a resident of Brooklyn, New York. Through detailed analysis of Simpson’s artistic works, it is very palpable that she (Simpson) holds a strong view against sexism and racism with special regard to the stereotypes emanating from these two themes. For instance, her 2019 series titled “Special Character” reveals how she confronted race and gender-related stereotypes by use of photographic collages.

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Career and Works

Lorna Simpson has had a tremendous career as a photographer cum artist. Known for their strong objection to racism and sexism, many of Simpson’s works have been widely featured and exhibited. From the 1980s through the 1990s, Simpson’s works uniquely depict African-American women.

Simpson’s sort of artistic work is believed to have been largely inspired by writers and artists. While the artists include Felix-Gonzalex Torres, Adrian Piper and David Hammons, the writers are notably Alice Walker, Ishmael Reed, Toni Morrison, Ntozake Shange and Langston Hughes.

By and large, Simpson’s works are admired for the powerful manner in which they differ from the conventional conceptions about such controversial themes as race, sex, culture and identity. Since she came into the limelight in the 1980s, Simpson has extensively explored the diverse identities especially with stronger focus on the black female identity within the American identity.

While Simpson has churned out a good deal of artworks, some of her notable works are listed as follows:


  • Gestures/Reenactments–an artwork produced in 1985 and comprising six photographs of a black man
  • Stereo Styles–an artwork produced in 1988 and comprising 10 instant film pictures
  • Counting–a 1991 artwork combining screenprint and photogravure
  • Wigs–a 1994 artwork in form of portfolio of 21 lithographs
  • Back–a 1991 artwork comprising three plastic plaques and two color Polaroids
  • The Waterbearer–a 1996 artwork in form of silver print
  • Five Day Forecast–a 1991 artwork comprising five photographs, 15 engraved plaques and gelatin silver print
  • III–a 1994 artwork seen as a wooden box with three wishbones made of bronze, rubber and ceramic
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Awards, Honors and/or Recognition

  • Workspace Grant, Jamaica Arts Centre (1987)
  • Louis Comfort Tiffany Award (1990) –organized by the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, New York
  • National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, United States (1985)
  • Artist Award for a Distinguished Body of Work (1994) –an award organized by New York’s College Art Association
  • Finalist of 1998 Hugo Boss Prize –organized by New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
  • Artist-in-Residence Grant (1997) –at Wexner Centre for the Arts
  • Whitney Museum of American Art Award (2001) –an award sponsored by New York’s Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art
  • Shortlisted Candidate for 2014 Deutsche Borse Photography Prize
  • Co-winner of 2019 J. Paul Getty Medal
  • School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts’ (SMFA) Medal Award (2018)
  • Distinguished Artist-In-Residence (2003), Christian A. Johnson Foundation –at Hamilton-based Colgate University in New York



We’re pretty sure that you’ve learnt everything you were willing to know about Lorna Simpson. If you however have a question to ask about the notable American photographer cum artist, you’re free to leave us a question in the comment section below.



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