GLAM Center for Collaborative Teaching and Learning - Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library

Art Pieces

Earth & Sky #24

Lorna Simpson’s makes the creative choice to recreate the women’s hair into abstraction pieces. In this piece specifically the woman is seen wearing bright yellow shirt which beautifully complements her skin. Her hair has also been created into what looks like a crown full of crystals. The name of the piece actually gives some insight as to what Lorna Simpson was trying to depict. Earth and Sky. But for this piece specifically, earth. Crystals are recognized as precious, rare, jewels that provide different positive energies. This is a beautiful concept to illustrate Black women’s hair. Due to the variations in Black hair amongst various people the different textures makes each persons’ hair a rarity. The distinct curl patterns and upkeep also makes it precious similar to the crystals. Simpson’s work is a continuous effort to examine how Black women’s hair also doubles as a cipher of identity.


This piece differs from all of the other pieces within this exhibit however it still captures the essence of Lorna Simpson’s work. This piece was created by artist Michael Harris and is a permanent piece within Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library Permanent Art Collection collection. Titles Roots the artist comprised six photos of various roots one being a photo of someone dreadlocks. This piece speaks to Simpsons overall theme about the beauty and the power of Black hair. While this piece is not an abstraction of hair it still embodies the metaphorical message. Roots for trees are what provide plants with  almost everything the need to grow and survive. Roots provide plants with water from the soil, nutrients, and they anchor the plant or tree in place. Similarly Black hair acts as root as it connects us to our ancestors and traditional cultures. Just as roots have many functions and grow at many lengths as does our hair and author Harris does a great job of comparing the two.

Blue Love

As previously mentioned Lorna’s pieces speak to the beauty and powerful nature of Black hair and specifically within this piece Black women’s hair. Simpsons’ use of free hand strokes and multiple layers of blue speaks to various ways that Black women change their hairstyles. It also illustrates how Black hair has a mind of its own. Historically and even modernly Black women and men’s natural hair have been categorized as unruly and nappy. It has even been deemed as unprofessional within the cooperate world due to its typically large shape. Simpson actually highlights and captivates the beauty and influencing nature of the hair while also focusing on the beauty of the man. The hair in the piece even resembles an ocean. Oceans are alive, calming, and power which are all things that Black hair embodies.

Art Pieces