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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Celebrated ceramicists in “Rose B. Simpson: Journeys of Clay” exhibition at Norton

Acclaimed ceramicist Rose B. Simpson has a survey of her work along with three generations of her matrilineal family at Norton Museum of Art.

Acclaimed ceramicist Rose B. Simpson, who hails from Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico and will be in the prestigious Whitney Biennial this year, will have a survey of her work along with three generations of her matrilineal family at Norton Museum of Art.

The exhibition, “Rose B. Simpson: Journeys of Clay,” is part of the Recognition of Art by Women (RAW) program. It opened on March 23 and will be on view until September 1, 2024.

Along with the survey will be four new pieces, tracing the Indigenous artists’ long line of artist clay makers with work by her mother, Roxanne Swentzell, a prolific artist whose expressive figures inspired Simpson; her grandmother, Rina Swentzell, an academic, activist, and architect; and her great-grandmother, the artist Rose Naranjo, the center of gravity that connected Simpson’s relatives.

More than 30 artworks will be on view together for the first time. As part of the RAW program, unique programming, and a new publication will be included in the exhibition.

Truss, 2021 by Rose B. Simpson
ROSE B. SIMPSON (Santa Clara Pueblo, born 1983) Truss, 2021 Ceramic, glaze, twine, beads, and brake drum 761⁄2x14x14in.(194.3×35.6×35.6cm) © Rose B. Simpson. Courtesy of the arWst, Jessica Silverman, San Francisco, and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York Photo by: Timothy Wampler

Simpson’s unusual work includes hanging masks and larger-than-life figurative sculptures that explore psychological, emotional, social, cultural, spiritual, and intellectual realms.

Roxanne Swentzell’s work of joyful female figures celebrates womanhood and motherhood.

“I learned to listen to myself and not be so influenced by what other people wanted me to make,” Swentzell said in an interview with the Denver Art Museum. “I am going to present the world through my eyes, not as somebody told me I was supposed to. With my sculptures, I try to reach people’s emotions so they can remember themselves.”

Roxanne Swentzell, mother of Rose Simpson, seen here at the Poeh Cultural Center in Santa Fe. (Photo Sandra Schulman)

Rina and Gia’s work highlights traditional Pueblo pottery styles. Rose Simpson says the multi-generational exhibit was her idea.

“I had just finished a solo show at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston,” Simpson said by phone from New Mexico. So when Norton’s curator, Arden Sherman, reached out to do another solo show, I felt I needed more context. It should be my whole family.”

“Arden talked about the museum’s resources, and she was sharing their collection with me. I’m thinking about how my work can be put into context. How can we create it to be a learning opportunity and educational rather than just a self-centered show? I was looking through the collection, and we’re talking about work that puts mine within the context with the things I have been inspired by, such as my area’s pre-contact Mesoamerican ceramics and ceramics.”

Norton director Ghislain d’Humieres has spoken about how the Norton collections lead viewers into the newer contemporary work they are showing and how important it is that people can start with the earliest art and literally trace eras and styles.

This show of one family of women artists going back over a century is unique, exciting, and inspirational.

“The center is this clay that I grew up around and what I learned from my family and the larger community,” Simpson says. We were just talking about the ‘mother’ inspiration for art history, and for me, it’s my mom. It’s my mom.”

Roxanne Swentzell has a large show at the Poeh Cultural Center in Santa Fe; she will be in the prestigious Heard Museum Art Market in Phoenix in March and is on the cover of Native American Art Magazine this month.

Simpson is showing four new pieces and then a survey of some of her previous work.

“There are going to be some wall pieces, and it’s cool to see how hard the museum worked to gather all this other work. One of the pieces is from my latest show in San Francisco in November last year, so it’s really fresh. I’m excited to go out there, and I’ve never been to Florida in my life.”

The San Francisco show was more of an installation of life-size figures lined up to face Simpson’s self-portrait figure with elaborate altar wall pieces.

Simpson is now coast to coast, with shows from California, New York, and Florida.

“I am in the Whitney Biennial in March and then to the Norton, and then I go back to New York to install at Madison Square Park. After that, I’m working on a big installation for the Cleveland Museum of Art, and then I’m working on new work for the DeYoung in San Francisco.”

 

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