Photo credit David Velasco

Lorraine O’Grady

Lorraine O’Grady is an African American conceptual artist and critic whose installations, performances, and texts address issues of diaspora, hybridity, and black female subjectivity. O’Grady worked at the U.S. State Department and as a successful rock critic before turning to art. She first became known for her guerilla performances as Mlle. Bourgeoise Noire (1980–83), when she invaded art openings dressed in debutante white, beating herself with flowers while reciting verses that highlighted the segregated nature of the art world. She has continued to create performances and, more recently, photographic diptych installations that pair historical and more contemporary figures such as Charles Baudelaire and Michael Jackson.

The Clearing: or Cortez and La Malinche, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, N. and Me, 1991; pre-digital photomontage diptych; photo credit the artist