Devin O’Leary, Paper
The Peabody Award-winning PBS series “Art in the twenty-first century” returns for its April 11th season. This season’s episode kickoffs on the topic of “Everyday Icons.” Among the artists profiled is Rose B. Simpson, a mixed media artist from Española and Santa Clara Pueblo.
The second show is written by senior producer, Ian Forster, “Art21”. “The only television series in the United States to focus solely on visual art and contemporary artists. It allows viewers to observe artists at work, watch as they transform inspiration into art and hear how they struggle with both physical and visual challenges to achieve their visions.”
Forster has worked for non-profit organizations after the show since 2009. He is the director and producer of the “Everyday Icon” event. Previously, he directed episodes in Johannesburg and London.
Asked what drew Simpson to “Art21,” Forster explains, “Our program is curatorially driven. So, first we fell in love with Rose’s work. But then during the studio visit, we fell in love with Rose as a person. Her work fits. The thematic episode of “Everyday Icons” is because she plans aesthetic traditions and histories that he finds in everyday life in Santa Clara Pueblo, NM while also rethinking them in favor of new ideas and the unusual.”
Opening the birth season, Simpson takes to his studio “Art21” in Santa Clara and demonstrates how he honors his ancestors in sculptural work. She explains how using clay is inherited through the matrilineal line and how she was inspired by the style of Maria Martinez, a famous master potter from the Santa Clara Pueblo. Simpson also explores how her upbringing in Española made her able to rethink the cultural norms of power.
“Rosa is an incredible artist when she works because she was open to the process and used it as a way to learn about herself and her work.” says Forster, “When we worked in his studio in New Mexico,” we could see various works in different stages of completion, such as sculpture, glass, firework, and decoration.
“Documentaries are, of course, visual media, so they can show an incredible opportunity.”
Forster traveled with Simpson to several locations around New Mexico, capturing images of his environment and work. “Rosa felt that there were important places and people that were most relevant to her, so she traveled to the Tsankawi portion of the Bandelier National Monument and also filmed with mother and daughter,” says Forster. “These opportunities have made a good subject because, in addition to the artists at work, we try to show how they connect with the communities around them.”
One of Simpson’s great “sculptures” works in fact Maria, a custom 1985 Chevy El Camino. “Probably the most direct example of Rosa with everyday iconography is through her artwork” Marianotes Forster. “Rosa grew up in the “Capital of the Lower World”, so she saw first hand how a car can be owned by someone and be a point of pride. This is painted in the black-black pottery of Maria Martinez, in an iconography that is deeply rooted in that region. The bus culture of the car and the traditions of Tewa pottery , the rose has created a new symbol of strength and resilience in the face of centuries of historical trauma.
The “Daily Icons” episode of “Art21: Art in the Twenty-first” featuring Rose B. Simpson premieres Friday, April 7 at 10 p.m. on KNME-HD 5.1.