Rose B. Simpson debuting new sculptures at Jessica Silverman

Jessica Silverman gallery (San Francisco) presents Rose B. Simpson’s “Skeena,” a solo show of new sculptures which demonstrate the artist’s uncanny ability to animate the inanimate. Simpson grew up in Santa Clara Pueblo, a Tewa tribal community next to the Latinx town of Española, New Mexico. “Skeena” is Latino slang for the people in my corner or those who’ve got my back.

Simpson’s “Skeena” is a down-to-earth and otherworldly exploration of community, which ultimately asks us to imagine how we all could be better ancestors. The exhibition opens November 9 and is on view through December 23, 2023.

Nine humanoid sculptures made of clay, steel, leather, and rubber, among other materials, are arranged in a circle behind a work titled Two Selves. The varied crew are mentors, sentinels, siblings, ancestors, and aliens. Their open eyes have seen it all, but remain gently curious and calmly alert.

These substantial beings, made of earth, emerge from a realm where the grounding sense of touch trumps the merely skin-deep power of sight. Variously titled Co-Pilots, Bridges, Daughters, Reception, and Of Matter, these ceramic dignitaries prevail over and effectively dumbfound the virtual, augmented, mediated fakery of our petty screens.

Made out of coiled red and yellow clay, Two Selves consists of two figures – an adult-sized armless character with firmly planted feet and a childlike creature with outstretched hands and restless legs. Bound to the chest of the bigger self, the smaller ego aspires, desires, and covets. It seeks change and courts risk.

Two Selves faces a wall-work titled Alter-Piece, a bas-relief triptych covered in shards, clay sticks, and glaze drawings. An altarpiece as well as a battle scene, the resolutely 3-D work flirts with painting but resists flatness. It might be a treasure map if it weren’t set on discovering the real meaning of fortune.

The final work in the show, which debuted in Philadelphia at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, is Space Baskets, an installation of over fifty multicolored, sculpted papier mâché bowls. Each hemisphere is marked with a black cross or plus sign, a resonant indigenous symbol related to the protection afforded by the guiding light of directional stars.

Jessica Silverman’s first Rose B. Simpson solo show was in 2019. During the past four years, the artist has been busy with institutional exhibitions, public works, and a solo booth at Art Basel, Switzerland. The experience of making comprehensive presentations at a larger scale for a broad range of indoor, outdoor, urban, and rural settings has positively impacted the artist’s practice.

Already a virtuoso of materiality, Simpson has embraced even greater complexity when it comes to the substances with which she creates. Other subtle shifts in her work include a move to conceiving sculptures in larger configurations, an expansion from androgynous figures to some gently gendered ones, and an evolution in focus from human ancestry to futurist views of cosmic life forces.

Jessica Silverman in San Francisco is located at 621 Grant Avenue.


Rose B. Simpson (b. 1983, Santa Clara Pueblo, NM) has an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design and an MA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Her works are in the finest collections including the Hirshhorn, Washington, D.C.; Guggenheim, New York; Museum of Fine Arts Boston; ICA Boston; Princeton University Art Museum; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia; MCA Chicago; Denver Art Museum; Portland Art Museum; LACMA, Los Angeles and SFMOMA.

In 2022, Simpson debuted “Counterculture,” a twelve-figure public work at Field Farm, MA, which is now on view at the Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, WI.

In 2023, she was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Institute of American Indian Art by President Biden.

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