Rihanna and Lorna Simpson collaborate for the new Essence cover
The visual artist and the recording artist have produced a series of images exploring contemporary beauty
Lorna Simpson is one artist who is quite used to working on the printed page. “Addressing the experience of African-American people and black women in particular, her collages use images from vintage magazines such as Ebony and Jet to consider issues of representation, identity and difference,” explains our book None.
Simpson is also quite familiar with representations of contemporary beauty; “her recent series ‘Earth & Sky’ shows glamorous women with gemstones collaged in place of their hair,” the book goes on to say.
Now, for the January/ February edition of Essence magazine, Simpson has teamed up with one notable, contemporary beauty: the Grammy Award–winning recording artist, songwriter, actress, philanthropist, and entrepreneur, Rihanna.
Simpson has worked with Rihanna to create a 12-page portfolio of images, continuing her earlier, glamorous series. Entitled Of Earth and Sky, the photographic images make reference to earlier beauty tropes, such as Boticelli’s Birth of Venus, while remaining thoroughly on the zeitgeist.
Rihanna herself is certainly pleased with the work. “Lorna is a legend,” she told the magazine. “Honestly, I just didn’t think I could get her, but I like reaching for the stars and I like challenging myself. It’s a natural trifecta. It’s like magic.”
That feeling is certainly mutual. “[Collaborating] with Rihanna and Essence magazine is quite incredible,” Simpson said. “As an artist, I’m able to deliver these unusual images of someone who is so well-known and so recognisable. It’s an amazing opportunity.”
To find out more about Simpon’s life and work, None. For more beautiful images from Rihanna, take a look at our exquisite visual biography, now available in a new, limited edition Queen Size format.