For the past two years, Rose Simpson has amassed a varied and powerful body of work while attending the masters program in Ceramics at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Chiaroscuro’s Thesis exhibition presents both installations and single works of ceramic, mixed media sculptures, and 2-D tiles. The clarity and resolve of her Thesis work is built upon her years of prolific studio practice, and are evidence of the artist’s penchant for pushing her own artistic boundaries. These new works tell the story of her artistic journey, and working to define her artistic identity.
Simpson’s work starts with the figure. In many cases, these ceramic or sculptural figures are self-portraits or portraits of people very close to her. Whether they are larger than life, or fit in the palm of your hand, each figure is yearning, stretching, and reaching- wrestling with questions such as: Am I a creation or reaction? Was I intellectually planned or intuitively made? What are my ties to cultural heritage? Who are ‘my’ people? Who am I?
Most people in our contemporary Western societies are not taught that art and life are of the same essence. Because of my roots in a post-colonial indigenous culture, I have been given a unique perspective that juxtaposes these opposing cultural dynamics. Shining a light on a potential new relationship to the ‘art world,’ I work to reveal ‘art’ as simply creativity: a tool for human expression, which can be applied to our entire human experience.
One of the major installations, To Be Pueblo, consists of a large wall tile with a photographic image of a Santa Clara woman from the 1900’s. The woman on the tile looks out over an installation of ceramic geese suspended in the air. This piece is deeply personal to the artist; it addresses both Native American stereotypes and the artist’s feeling of personal identity. As with all of Simpson’s pieces, the emotion and poise of the work is clearly felt- strongly pulling the viewer into her world.
Rose B. Simpson has been represented by Chiaroscuro since 2007. She is from Santa Clara Pueblo, NM, and belongs to a large extended family of artists. She graduated from University of New Mexico and Institute of American Indian Arts in 2007 with a BFA in Studio Arts. Despite her young age, Simpson has exhibited widely in public and private venues, and was included in SITE Santa Fe’s Seventh International Biennial: Lucky Number Seven in 2008. Simpson graduated from the Ceramics program at RISD in the spring of 2011 and received a grant from the college to continue her artistic pursuits.
(Images: Rose B. Simpson, The Answer That Ended Creation , 2011, Ceramic , 6 x 8 x 4 inches; Reach, 2011, Ceramic, steel, 67 X 45 1/2 X 27 inches; To Be Pueblo, 2011, Ceramic, adobe, wood, steel, 74 X 42 X 63 inches; Pod III, 2011, Ceramic, reed, string, 11 1/2 X 12 1/2 X 16 1/2 inches; Courtesy of the artist and Chiaroscuro Contemporary Art)
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