Alexandria Ogden could not help but to be a little put off by Fabian Simpson’s artwork when she finally saw his portfolio.
Ogden, 22, had never seen so many colorful illustrations of naked women. And these weren’t just naked women, they were women in various stages of sexual provocation- some were bent over and dancing provocatively. One painting simply showed naked legs with a pair of slinky panties wrapped around the woman’s ankles. If she didn’t already know him so well she might have thought that he was a pervert.
“At first I was taken aback by it,” she said. “I’d never met anyone so engulfed [with the female body.]”
She felt much more comfortable looking at his starkly different depictions of older women in church hats, or his drawings of women with big afros or women dressed in traditional African clothing. But for every modestly dressed African goddess she gazed upon in his workspace there would invariably be another canvas of a naked woman desperately trying to seduce her.
Although she was impressed with the afrocentrism expressed in his art, she just had to ask… what’s up with all of the naked chicks?
“That represents the truth to me, like the naked truth,” Simpson said. “There are so many things in life that we run from and the major thing that we run from is the truth. With the naked body I’m able to pull the truth out of you.”
This is the explanation that he gives to most people who question what he draws. An art major at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, he generally works with students and instructors who encourage his style of art. After all, he has travelled to his share of art shows and discovered that it is certainly not unusual to see the naked body depicted in all sorts of creative ways. He seems to be just as fascinated with the reaction people have to nudity in art as he is with the art itself.
“For example, say you put a piece of art up [at an art show] of a naked woman laying in a bed and some old person comes by and it offends them,” he said. “Why does it offend them? It offends them because it makes them feel a certain type of way, maybe they like it deep down inside. Art makes you do just about anything that you don’t want to do. I can pull the truth out of anybody with just a picture.”
When he put it to Ogden this way she was surprised to find that she agreed with him. His explanation made sense. Still, she suspected that there were even deeper meanings hidden in the pieces he produced. Now that she and Simpson have been dating for two years, she has her own ideas about what motivates his art. Though he only recently declared a major in art, he has been a practicing artist for years. It wasn’t until he was invited to play football for Stillman that Simpson realized he could pursue his lifelong passion as a career.
“[His art] is what helped him to cope with losing so many people,” Ogden said.
The son of a Jamaican immigrant, Simpson was orphaned early in his life after his mother died and his father was deported. After that he was shuffled between homes, raised mostly by single female relatives. He was a kid who had to grow up fast, and perhaps his art, in some way or another, is a reflection of his experiences. Throughout all of his art is a reflection of his past, simulated through the various manifestations of the women who raised him, the women who hurt him and the women who believed in him when no one else did.
“Abuse of women plays a big part in my art,” he said. “Not saying that I’m such a good guy, I’ve had my dog days. I’ve seen a lot of women be disgraced in front of my eyes, I’ve seen them be talked down to and torn down mentally.
While the female body, whether clothed or unclothed, is a memorable feature in his art, it certainly does not represent the entirety of his work. He dedicates the bulk of his time building his brand, called Twenty-Eight Flavors after his high school football jersey number. Through the website he created for the brand, Simpson is commissioned to design custom art work.
In the past, some people have underestimated the amount of dedication necessary for what he does. When he told his teammates that he was an art major some of them, like Tori Bennett, a business major, assumed that he had picked his major because it was easy. When changed his mind when he and Simpson became friends and he got a chance to view his work.
“We all come from hard-stalk backgrounds,” Bennett said. “We always told ourselves we were going to make it. We were going to graduate college and accomplish things. When I see everything he went through and everything he wants out of life.”

About The Author

Judah Martin is a senior studying journalism at the University of Alabama.

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