Born in New York City, Kristin Simmons is a painter, printmaker, and silkscreen artist with a BA in Studio Art and Art History from Columbia University. Simmons has been the recipient of several prestigious awards including the Orra White Hitchcock and National Endowment of the Arts Award.
Having grown up in New York City, Simmons draws major inspiration from her experience of a culture of excess. The locus of Kristin Simmons work is a grey area situated somewhere between a phantasmagoric vision of a foreshortened (or nonexistent) childhood, and an adulthood predicated on conspicuous consumption, where identity is determined by schools attended, clothing and accessories acquired, and the location and dimensions of property owned. Simmons’ work simultaneously satirizes the culture of elite consumption, and acknowledges her own complicity. She critiques without sermonizing, defanging her own criticism in an attempt to persuade her audience to drop its defenses and, paradoxically, to examine the culture of consumption with a more critical mindset. Parallels between childhood games and adult vices are overt. For Simmons, though, the games of childhood serve primarily as thinly veiled training for an adulthood predicated on conspicuous consumption. Simmons does not point fingers so much as suggest, and what she suggests is not that adulthood is a banishment from the Eden of childhood but, rather, that there is no Eden from which to be banished.
In her previous series, Simmons used the internet, books and pop culture to appropriate source images for her work before blending these images with childhood toys and objects in her studio. Bold, graphic, and colorful, Simmons’ most recent work recalls current political affairs, particularly gun rights and Wall Street scandals. She flirts with Warhol’s elevation and Koons’ recreation of the ‘readymade’ by reworking and embellishing mass-produced plastic guns and stock certificates of now defunct companies.
Simmons’ work is eye-catching, playful, and polemical. The discussion and debate surrounding her chosen themes (drugs, capitalism, guns) are never not politicized and divisive. But, however much her work provokes and polarizes, it never moralizes.
Simmons currently works in New York City.