Editor's note: The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts provided source material to Resource Library for the following article or essay. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts directly through either this phone number or web address:


Lorna Simpson

May 25 - August 19, 2007


The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA) is presenting the exhibition Lorna Simpson (May 25-August 19, 2007), the first mid-career survey of the artist's work. Organized by the American Federation of Arts, the exhibition provides a comprehensive examination of the artistic production of one of the leading artists working in the United States today. 

Lorna Simpson became well known in the mid-1980s, confronting and challenging conventional views of gender, identity, culture, history and memory with large-scale photograph and text works. By the mid-90s, Simpson began to concentrate on creating large multi-panel photographs printed on felt that depict the site of public, yet unseen, sexual encounters. More recently, Simpson has turned to creating moving images. In film and video works such as Call Waiting, she features couples engaging in intimate yet incomplete conversations that elude easy interpretation but seem to plumb the mysteries of identity and desire.

In much of Simpson's work, "language is employed like a lever to pry open the lid of the unconscious," said Okwui Enwezor, dean of academic affairs at the San Francisco Art Institute, in his essay in the exhibition catalogue. "The text panels confront the viewer with a fundamental contradiction between the sense of vision and voice as separate forms of knowing." 

The exhibition will include a variety of Simpson's acclaimed image and text works (1985-92) and several major photographs on felt (1994-2005). Also included are five film/video installations (1997-2004), including Call Waiting; Easy to Remember; Interior/Exterior, Full/Empty, a seven-part projection and related series of photographs; and 31, a video calendar in which the artist closely observes a month in the public and private life of an unknown woman.

The exhibition concludes with the artist's recent photographs (2001-03), which consist of a group of ghostly, silhouetted profiles of black women and men accompanied by the titles of paintings, songs and films that date from the 1790s to the 1970s. 

Lorna Simpson was born in 1960 in Brooklyn, New York, and received her BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts, New York, and her MFA from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has been exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), the Miami Art Museum and the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis). 

The KIA is the only Midwest venue for Lorna Simpson. The exhibition's previous stops have been the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Miami Art Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Its final venue will be the Gibbes Museum of Art (Charleston, SC), in fall 2007. 

The exhibition is free of charge and open during normal gallery hours at the KIA: Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. 

This exhibition is made possible, in part, by grants from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Peter Norton Family Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., the Martin Bucksbaum Family Foundation, Emily Fisher Landau, and The Barbara Lee Family Foundation Fund at the Boston Foundation. 

In Kalamazoo, it is sponsored by the Richard and Jane Manoogian Foundation, the Monroe-Brown Foundation, the Harold and Grace Upjohn Foundation, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and supported by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, The CSM Group, JPMorgan Chase, Shore Magazine, Stryker and WOOD-TV.



Published by the American Federation of Arts and Harry N. Abrams, the exhibition catalogue features essays by Okwui Enwezor and Hilton Als, as well as a conversation with Lorna Simpson, Isaac Julien, and Thelma Golden.  





Lorna Simpson preview party (Wednesday, May 23, 5:30-9:30 p.m.) -- Be the first to see the exhibition at this exclusive party, featuring music by Blue Dahlia and the John Chamberlain Jazz Band, hors d'oeuvres, desserts, sangria and a cash bar. More information at www.kiarts.org/museum/exhibitions.shtml.
Figure, Structure, Phantom: Bodily Images in the Art of Lorna Simpson (Thursday, May 24, 7-8 p.m.) -- In this free public lecture, Northwestern University Assistant Professor of Art History Huey Copeland charts Lorna Simpson's various ways of conjuring the black body in her videos, sculptures and photo-texts, and compares her work with antecedents and contemporaries, from Richard Avedon to Kiki Smith.
Art & All That Jazz (Friday, June 8, 5-7 p.m.) -- Enjoy a guided tour of the exhibition, chill to the melodic electronica of DJ Chromafeel and enjoy beverages and snacks, prizes and surprises, all free of charge and presented in a fun, informal setting.
Women in Art (three weeks, begins Wednesday July 11, 6:30-8:30 p.m.) -- This class, offered through the Kirk Newman Art School at the KIA, will offer a lively overview of the ingenious ways that generations of women artists -- from the Renaissance to the present day -- circumvented obstacles to establish themselves as professionals. More information at www.kiarts.org/school.
Black Arts Film Festival (Wednesday, July 25, 6-7:30 p.m.) -- Presented by the Black Arts and Cultural Center, this free program will include screenings of two short documentaries on artists Elizabeth Catlett (Sculpting the Truth) and Lorna Simpson (Worlds of Art: Works in Progress), followed by a discussion moderated by artist and educator James Watkins.
Lorna Simpson Art Poetry Slam (Friday, August 3, 5-7 p.m.) -- Local poets will perform their Lorna Simpson-inspired works, and audience members will select winners. Includes refreshments and prizes. Free of charge.
ARTbreak (Tuesdays, 12:15 p.m.) -- The KIA's free, weekly art-related presentations will focus this summer on film, photography and African American art. More information at www.kiarts.org/artbreak.shtml.
Drop-in guided tours (Thursdays, noon-1 p.m. and Sundays, 2:30-3:30 p.m.) -- Drop in on your lunch hour or on Sunday afternoon to enjoy a free, docent-guided tour of Lorna Simpson.


(aboce: Lorna Simpson, Waterbearer, 1986, Gelatin silver print, vinyl lettering, Photograph 45 x 77 x 1 _ inches (framed), 55 x 77 x 1 _ inches overall. Collection Sean and Mary Kelly, New York)


(aboce: Lorna Simpson, She, 1992, 4 Polaroid prints, 1 engraved plastic plaque, 29 x 85 _ inches overall. Collection Jack and Sandra Guthman, Chicago )


(aboce: Lorna Simpson, Call Waiting, 1997, Gelatin silver print with silk-screened text, 22 1/2 x 18 1/2 inches (framed). Collection Scott J. Goldsmith and Jeffrey Silberstein, New York; Courtesy Sean Kelly Gallery, New York. From the video installation Call Waiting, 1997. 16mm black-and-white film transferred to DVD. 13 minutes, 11 seconds, sound. Courtesy the artist)


(aboce: Lorna Simpson, Interior/Exterior, Full/Empty, Gelatin silver print with silk-screened text, 22 1/2 x 18 1/2 inches (framed), from the video installation Interior/Exterior, Full/Empty, 1997 7 channel DVD projection of 16 mm black-and-white film, 20 minutes, sound. Commissioned by the Wexner Center for the Arts at the Ohio State University. Courtesy the artist)


(aboce: Lorna Simpson, Corridor (Phone), 2003 , Digital chromatic print mounted to Plexiglas, 27 x 72 inches. Courtesy the artist )


(aboce: Lorna Simpson, Cloud, 2005, Serigraph on 9 felt panels, 84 x 84 inches overall. Courtesy the artist )


Resource Library readers may also enjoy

Learner.org, a service of Annenberg/CPB, provides life long learning programs on the Web. Several videos in the Teacher Resources section focus on American art in the A World of Art: Work in Progress series. A World of Art is a video instructional series on art appreciation for college and high school classrooms and adult learners. Each program in this art appreciation series is devoted to a contemporary artist who takes one or more works of art from start to finish. Each show is 30 minutes in length. Examples are:

A World of Art was produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting in association with Oregon State University in 1996 with the first PBS relaese in Fall 1997.


Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other web sites. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. TFAO neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although TFAO includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over them. For more information on evaluating web pages see TFAO's General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History.

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts in Resource Library.

Visit the Table of Contents for Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

Copyright 2007 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.