Profile: Xaviera Simmons (1974-)

Xaviera Simmons is an American contemporary artist. She has discussed in lectures that she is a descendant of Black American enslaved individuals on all sides of her lineage as well as European American colonizers and Indigenous Americans through the institution of American Slavery. Her body of work spans photography, performance, painting, video, sound, sculpture, and installation. Her studio practice is rooted in an ongoing investigation of sensory experience, memory, and abstraction within present and future histories—specifically shifting notions surrounding landscape—as cyclical versus linear. Simmons is committed to the examination of different artistic modes and processes; she may dedicate part of a year to photography, another part to performance, and other parts to installation, video, and sound work. As of 2019, Simmons is a visiting Professor and lecturer and the Inaugural Solomon Fellow at Harvard University.


Simmons received her BFA from Bard College in 2004, studying under An-My Lê, Larry Fink, Mitch Epstein, Luc Sante, and Stephen Shore. She completed the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program in Studio Art in 2005, while simultaneously completing a two-year actor-training conservatory with The Maggie Flanigan Studio. To complement her practice as a visual artist, Simmons has also studied aspects of midwifery and herbalism.


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