Rose B. Simpson, Brace, 2022. Clay, glaze, steel and string. 38 1/2 x 28 x 14 inches (97.8 x 71.1 x 35.6 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman, San Francisco. PHOTO: Addison Doty. © Rose B. Simpson
DynaFriendly sculpture artist Rose B. Simpson opens her first solo exhibition in Boston at the ICA, August 11-January 29. Using ceramic sculpture, performance, installation, metalwork, writing, and other media, Simpson reflects on the human condition, particularly under colonial rule.
“Simpson is one of the most compelling voices in contemporary sculpture who constantly asks pressing questions about our current situation in the world through inventive techniques and materials,” says Jeffrey De Blois, Associate Curator and Head of Publications and exhibition organizer. “We look forward to sharing his powerful work with Boston audiences.”
“Rose B. Simpson: Legacies,” features 11 of the artist’s works, including new pieces shown for the first time. The centerpieces of the exhibit are Simpson’s signature ceramic figures, part of a matrilineal heritage of working in clay and, fittingly, often depicting female subjects. Figures range from life-size to miniature and intimate, with each sculpture probing consciousness and lived experience.
Simpson was born in Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico, and still lives and works there, now teaching her own daughter how to use creativity to navigate the world. She holds a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Art, an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian. Art.
“My life’s work is a search for tools to use to undo the damage I have suffered as a human being in our postmodern, postcolonial era – the objectification, stereotyping, and crippling detachment of our creative selves through to the ease of modern technology,” Simpson says in an artist statement.
In “Brace”, two figures of clay, steel, glaze and string lean against each other, creating a triangle shape. The armless figures support each other and look over their shoulders as if looking for threats. Here, ancestry and heritage reinforce contemporary issues, with past and present supporting each other.
“Root A” stands 71 inches tall and shows a figure on the ground with crossed arms and a circular shape connecting the head to the body. According to the artist, this figure stands “for justice, healing and rehabilitation” in the face of significant conflict, perhaps even an apocalyptic landscape. In this way, and frequently in his work, Simpson illustrates how age-old tools and practices can be used to overcome difficulties.
“These tools are sculptural works of art that function in the psychological, emotional, social, cultural, spiritual, intellectual, and physical realms,” Simpson explains. “The intent of these tools is to heal; therefore, my hope is that they become utilitarian concepts that work hard.