On Thursday (January 14), the long-running mag released their photo spread with the pop titan in collaboration with iconic artist Lorna Simpson. "I needed to create images of Rihanna to place within the environments of source materials from my archive," Simpson told the mag of shooting the chart-topper. "For the project to have the same kind of dramatic visual intensity as my collage work to date, I had to consider the atmosphere and lighting of specific source materials before arriving to set."
"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," she continued.
Rihanna admitted that she didn’t know if she "could get" Simpson, before confessing that she was open to the task at hand. "But I like reaching for the stars and I like challenging myself," she told the mag.
Zora Simpson Casebere, Simpson's daughter, also chimed in, sharing the ways in which Rihanna helped shape her womanhood. "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," she admitted.
Elsewhere in the issue, Essence pays tribute to vice-president-elect Kamala Harris. Expect the January + February 2021 issue of the mag to be available on newsstands next week.
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