New Series of Photographs by Laurie Simmons
To Premiere at the Jewish Museum in March 2015
Images Explore Methods of Self-Expression in a Social Media-Driven World Through Online “Doll Girls” Subculture
New York, NY – The Jewish Museum will present a series of recent photographs by artist Laurie Simmons, on view from March 13 to August 9, 2015. The new works in Laurie Simmons: How We Seedraw upon the “Doll Girls” subculture, women who alter themselves to look like Barbie, baby dolls, and Japanese Anime characters through make-up, dress, and even cosmetic surgery. Simmons’ images call to mind high school portraits, featuring fashion models posed in front of a curtained backdrop, cropped from the shoulders up. Prismatic lighting and small, surprising details in the models’ clothing lends these otherwise banal images a psychedelic effect, which is exaggerated by each girl’s preternaturally large, sparkling eyes. They stare out at the viewer with an uncanny, alien gaze, created by lavishly painting eyes onto the models’ closed eyelids—a technique drawn from the “Doll Girls” community.
In How We See, Simmons goes beyond the disturbing questions raised by the “Doll Girls” community to explore notions of beauty, identity, and persona. Her longstanding interest in masking and disguises here extends to social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, where alternative versions of the self can quickly appear, morph, and be erased. How We See likens this persona-play to high-tech dress-up, and investigates the way individuality is reassembled through the distorted lens of idealized beauty.
How We See expands upon Simmons’ career-long work with miniatures, figurines, and avatars, exemplified by the series Early Color Interiors (1978-79), Walking & Lying Objects (1987-91), and The Love Doll (2009-11).
Laurie Simmons grew up in a post-World War II suburb on Long Island, one of three daughters raised in a Jewish household. Simmons knew she would be an artist from a very young age and regularly traveled into Manhattan to visit museums, exposing herself to art, fashion, and music. She received her BFA from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in 1971, after which she moved to New York City to pursue her artistic career. Solo exhibitions of Simmons’ work have been held at the Neues Museum, Nuremberg Germany (2014); the Print Gallery at the New York Public Library (2010); The Baltimore Museum of Art (1997 ); The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1987); and P.S. 1, New York (1979). Her work has also been shown at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.
Laurie Simmons: How We See is organized by Assistant Curator Kelly Taxter.
Laurie Simmons: How We See is made possible by the Melva Bucksbaum Fund for Contemporary Art and The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation. Additional generous support is provided by Toby Devan Lewis, The Alice M. and Thomas J. Tisch Foundation, Ann and Mel Schaffer, and Vera Schapps.
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