The collaboration between singer/entrepreneur Rihanna and the acclaimed artist/ photographer Lorna Simpson, is an extension of Simpson’s ongoing project reinterpreting images of Black women who have posed the pages of Ebony and Jet magazines.
“I needed to create images of Rihanna to place within the environments of source materials from my archive.
Knowing Rihanna’s charisma and commanding presence, my effort was then to be as present and prepared as possible to capture her exquisite performance for the camera.”
The issue also features a personal essay by actress and model Zora Simpson Casebere, the daughter of Lorna Simpson and artist James Casabere, that reflects on Rihanna’s songs and public presence and how they helped Simpson Casebere get through young adulthood,
“At 13, I was deeply grateful that at a formative time in my life, it was Rihanna’s voice and art that became my portals to so many questions about sexuality, sexual exploration, and sexual autonomy.”
Simpson Casebere helped her mother prepare for the shoot as a stand-in model, so that Simpson could identify the best archival material to amplify Rihanna’s presence on set.
Simpson Casabere says that when the singer first entered the room,
“She was the very definition of grace, charisma, and influence.
She met the camera with power and possibility—power in how she moved her body through space, and possibility in how she dismantled and moved beyond institutional boundaries.”
(Photos, Lorna Simpson for Essence; via Artnet News)