Art in Re­view The work of Rose B. Simp­son

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Through­out her ca­reer, Santa Clara Pue­blo artist Rose B. Simp­son has main­tained a self-re­flec­tive, per­sonal con­nec­tion that per­me­ates all of her work. Whether she’s craft­ing mon­u­men­tal war­rior fig­ures in clay and mixed me­dia, wall-mounted masks, dolls, fash­ion de­signs, or other fig­u­ra­tive works, she em­ploys the same aes­thetic in each piece, con­vey­ing a sense of raw, un­pre­ten­tious earth­i­ness.

One never doubts that her con­nec­tion to the earth is au­then­tic. Simp­son spent her child­hood with her fam­ily liv­ing off the grid at Santa Clara’s Flow­er­ing Tree Per­ma­cul­ture In­sti­tute. As she ex­plains in a video­taped in­ter­view on view in the ex­hi­bi­tion The Work of Rose B. Simp­son, her ex­pe­ri­ence was en­tirely dis­con­nected from the day-to-day ex­pe­ri­ence of neigh­bor kids whose fam­i­lies had tele­vi­sions, houses, cars, and other ameni­ties that were never a part of her early up­bring­ing. Simp­son learned to be re­source­ful and brings to her work an eth­i­cal use of nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als. The ex­hibit, cur­rently on dis­play at the Wheel­wright Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can In­dian, con­tin­ues through Oc­to­ber 2019.

is a mid-ca­reer ret­ro­spec­tive, Simp­son’s first. Pri­mar­ily a show of sculp­ture, is pre­sented in a rev­er­ent way that al­lows the viewer to com­mune with each work singly while also pro­vid­ing a co­he­sive sense of the re­la­tion­ships be­tween the works. Most im­pres­sive is the ar­range­ment of sev­eral life-sized fig­u­ra­tive sculp­tures, each in­di­vid­u­ally placed in a low-light set­ting that feels in­ti­mate and re­spect­ful, like en­ter­ing a sanc­tum.

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