erica deeman finds infinite worlds within ultra violet 2, 2015, by lorna simpson
Erica Deeman finds infinite worlds within “Ultra Violet 2” (2015), by Lorna Simpson.
© Lorna Simpson; Photo Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth

In my studio and my home, I’ve spread out my art books on almost every flat surface. You’ll find them opened up, and as part of a small ritual I have created for myself, I turn the pages daily, or weekly, or when I feel it’s time to reveal new images for contemplation. Walking into every room, there’s something different to see. There’s the potential to be renewed from a challenging day or negative feeling, or to be reminded of joy and beauty, perseverance and love. With the turning of each page, there is a chance to release a different energy—a transformational energy that flows into the space and into me.

This article appears in the Fall 2021 issue of Alta Journal.

The books and the images within them are like friends; many of them are portraits, so in a way they have become familiar, warm, and dear. Of course, I will never know the entirety of the faces I see and admire; behind each person is a life with unseen possibilities and infinite potential. In this knowing, I find the space to explore quietly and to reflect back on myself.

Lorna Simpson’s Collages sits me in a place of infinity, beauty, and the galaxies that we, as Black women, reside in. Simpson cut out advertising portraits from Ebony and Jet magazines, replacing their hair with tender and expressive watercolors and inks, images of gemstones, moonscapes, and solar systems. Moving through the images takes time, as each woman (and sometimes man) exudes a different power and source of consideration. I am always returning to Ultra Violet 2. It is as if time has collapsed on this page and the energy that the image releases never ceases. I find myself caught in the catchlight of her eyes, in the gleam of her lips and the bountiful vibrancy of her watercolor hair. There is no need to move away just yet from the shine of her skin, her gaze, or the sparkle of the jewelry that adorns her.

She inspires me from a deep place in my soul; she is a history of her own and part of a greater story; she is comfort when I need it and a place of safety.•

Lorna Simpson’s newest work will be featured in her exhibition Everrrything, at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles, which runs through January 9, 2022.