rose b. simp­son

Get back, you dom­i­nant par­a­digms!

Pasatiempo - - Young Artists -

Rose Bean Simp­son has a lot to say, and she’s welle­quipped to say it— in words and in her art. Among her most im­por­tant top­ics are the virtues of hon­esty and of seek­ing self-knowl­edge— and also what the 26-year-old sees as the rift be­tween con­tem­po­rary art and “In­dian art.”

Dur­ing a re­cent in­ter­view, Simp­son, who is study­ing for her mas­ter’s de­gree in ce­ram­ics at Rhode Is­land School of De­sign, talked about tribal mem­ber­ship and the Cer­tifi­cate of In­dian Blood as “a geno­ci­dal tech­nique by the gov­ern­ment to de­stroy a cul­ture. The art world has been uti­liz­ing this geno­ci­dal con­struct to main­tain its In­dian art sta­tus. I think a lot of things like that should be ques­tioned.

“It’s not al­low­ing the cul­ture to evolve,” said Simp­son, a mem­ber of Santa Clara Pue­blo. “It main­tains the stereo­type of not only blood quan­tum but all the stereotypes. It’s sort of stag­nat­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties of cul­ture. That CIB con­cept— you know, Na­tive Amer­i­cans are the only peo­ple in the en­tire world who get a piece of pa­per when they’re born that tells them what quan­tum of blood they are.”

Simp­son is ob­vi­ously pas­sion­ate about mat­ters of jus­tice and in­tegrity, and she hopes, among other things, to be a teacher. “I’m a TA [teacher’s as­sis­tant] here at RISD, which is a good ex­pe­ri­ence, but I re­ally want to bring it back to Santa Fe. There’s a lot of com­mu­ni­ties there I feel are stag­nated, and open­ing of per­spec­tive can al­low evo­lu­tion.”

Her own early evo­lu­tion took place in Santa Fe and Santa Clara Pue­blo as the daugh­ter of ce­ramic sculp­tor Rox­anne Swentzell and con­tem­po­rary artist Pa­trick Simp­son. She was vale­dic­to­rian of her class at Santa Fe In­dian School, then at­tended The Uni­ver­sity of New Mex­ico, ma­jor­ing in art and writ­ing and play­ing in a hip-hop band called Garbage Pail Kidz.

She com­pleted her bach­e­lor’s de­gree in stu­dio arts at the In­sti­tute of Amer­i­can In­dian Arts. Simp­son’s port­fo­lio in­cludes par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Pop Life events organized by Apache Skate­boards founder Dou­glas Miles and work (with her aunt Nora Naranjo-Morse and her cousin El­iza Naranjo-Morse) on a mul­tisite in­stal­la­tion for SITE Santa Fe’s Sev­enth In­ter­na­tional Bi­en­nial in 2008. She has also been a singer in two bands: Chocolate He­li­copter and The­Wake Singers.

Her ma­jor fo­cus at RISD is ce­ram­ics, but her predilec­tion for mixed me­dia is also ap­par­ent. “I’m work­ing on sort of a nest made out of sticks that I’m coat­ing with clay,” she said in early De­cem­ber. “Also, be­cause I have the knowl­edge of do­ing au­dio record­ing, it’s been re­ally help­ful to hash out my ideas in my work here. I didn’t nec­es­sar­ily see it as a skill I could mix with my work, but now this nest will have, like, au­dio in it. There are lit­tle speak­ers, and it will be record­ing my voice and play­ing it. So I’m think­ing a lot about in­stalling au­dio in my clay forms.”

Simp­son’s art pieces in both two and three di­men­sions have been ver­sions of her­self— as a punk rocker, a cater­pil­lar-like crea­ture, a “Pue­blo but­ter­fly,” and oth­ers quite sur­real and dif­fi­cult to de­scribe. “I tend to do self-por­traits be­cause I feel they’re the most hon­est,” she said. “Each piece por­trays a dif­fer­ent per­son­al­ity. I guess I’m dig­ging around and fig­ur­ing out who I am in all th­ese dif­fer­ent as­pects.”

Some of that dig­ging was done atWare­house 21 and IAIA, and some at less for­mal col­lec­tives. All of­fered sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ments. “I think young artists who have tried to cre­ate a space like Me­owWolf and Hum­ble Space have not had a lot of help and sup­port from the com­mu­nity,” Simp­son said. “Ware­house 21 is def­i­nitely a gem ... it was for me and still is. I love go­ing over there. How­ever, I think there needs to be more of the sort of DIY — do it your­self. Also, IAIA is one of the main things that will keep me in Santa Fe. I have a lot of heart in that place.

“I have to be in Santa Fe for my soul, but I will def­i­nitely con­tinue to fight to make it a place for young peo­ple and to al­low the free­dom of ex­pres­sion, which has been al­ways con­trolled by the mar­ket, and that means peo­ple with money, peo­ple who have es­tab­lished them­selves, older peo­ple. And I think the youth in Santa Fe are seen sort of as like th­ese aliens from an­other planet, like ‘Oh my God, what are you do­ing?’ rather than, ‘Wow, that’s cool. What have you to show us about the fu­ture and how can we sup­port that?’ ”

— PaulWei­de­man

Pro­tec­tor, mixed-me­dia sculp­ture by Rose B. Simp­son

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