Monday, May 29, 2023

New Mexico Artist Featured in PBS Series

"Art in the Twenty-First Century" Focuses on Santa Clara Sculptor Rose B. Simpson


The Peabody Award-winning PBS series "Art in the Twenty-First Century" returns for its 11th season on April 7. This season's kickoff episode focuses on the subject of "Everyday Icons." Among the artists profiled is Rose B. Simpson, a mixed-media artist from Española and Santa Clara Pueblo.

According to the show's senior producer, Ian Forster, “Art21” is "the only series on television in the United States to focus exclusively on contemporary visual art and artists. It allows viewers to observe the artists at work, watch as they transform inspiration into art and hear how they struggle with both the physical and visual challenges of achieving their visions."

Forster has worked for the nonprofit organizations behind the show since 2009. He was the director and producer of the "Everyday Icons" episode. He previously directed episodes focusing on Johannesburg and London.

Asked what attracted “Art21” to Simpson, Forster explains, "Our program is curatorially driven. So first we fell in love with Rose's work. But then during a studio visit, we fell in love with Rose as a person. Her work fits the episode's thematic framework of 'Everyday Icons' because she is reflecting on aesthetic traditions and histories that she encounters in her daily life in Santa Clara Pueblo, N.M. while also re-imagining them in favor of new ideas and unorthodox approaches."

In the season opening episode, Simpson takes "Art21" into her studio in Santa Clara and demonstrates how she honors her ancestors in her sculptural work. She explains how the clay she uses is inherited through the matrilineal line and how she was inspired by the stylistics of Maria Martinez, the world-famous master potter from the Santa Clara Pueblo. Simpson also details how her upbringing in Española caused her to reconsider cultural symbols of empowerment.

"Rose was an incredible artist to work with because she was open to the process and used it as a way to learn about herself and her work.” says Forster. “When we filmed with her at her studio in New Mexico, there were various works at different stages of completion, so we could see the sculpting, the glazing, the firing and the adorning.”

"Documentaries are of course a visual medium, so being able to show those stages was an incredible opportunity."

Forster traveled with Simpson to several locations around New Mexico, capturing a portrait of her environment as well as her work. "Rose felt it was important to feature the places and people that matter most to her, so we traveled to the Tsankawi portion of Bandelier National Monument and also filmed with her mother and daughter," says Forster. "These opportunities made her a good subject because, in addition to showing artists at work, we aim to show how they're connected to and engaged with the communities around them."

One of the large-scale “sculptures” Simpson works on during the episode is Maria, a customized 1985 Chevy El Camino. "Probably the most direct example of Rose engaging with everyday iconography is through her artwork Maria,” points out Forster. “Rose grew up in the 'Lowrider Capital of the World,' so she saw firsthand how a car can empower someone and be an important point of pride. By painting it in the style of Maria Martinez's black-on-black pottery, she engaged an iconography which is deeply rooted in that region. By merging car culture and Tewa pottery traditions, Rose created a new symbol of strength and resilience in the face of centuries of historical trauma.”

The “Everyday Icons” episode of “Art21: Art in the Twenty-First Century” featuring Rose B. Simpson premieres Friday, April 7 at 10pm on KNME-HD 5.1.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here