Rose B. Simpson is a mixed-media artist working in ceramic sculpture, metal, fashion, painting, music, performance, installation, and, most recently, custom cars. Rose B. Simpson: Ground integrates her monumental clay sculptures with Pomona College’s collection of Native American Art. Working as both artist and curator, Simpson explores complex issues surrounding the past, present, and future of Native America, including contemporary Native identity and cultural survival. For this exhibition, she selected objects that obliterate the western dichotomy of aesthetic versus utilitarian objects to propose an indigenous aesthetic of use and human connectedness. “Ground” connects objects, hallowed and hollowed by use, to her figural sculptures that speak to cultural continuation in a post-apocalyptic future.
The title “Ground” embraces the many meanings of the word as both noun and verb. She points out that ground is the place where we find our feet. Ground down describes years of smoothing wear that form a stone into a tool or wears an indentation into a bowl, “marks of thousands of hours of intention, passion, survival, body movement.” Its use as a past-tense verb prompts her to ask, "Are our current actions (as Indigenous peoples) no longer valid, based on the supremacy of historical fact over the disenfranchisement of our current situation? Have we been worn away into nothing? Or is that wearing the act of turning something inedible into a delicacy?” Ground offers hope and promise: “To ground oneself is to reconnect physically to the earth, to root, to restore power, to build a strong foundation.”
Exhibition overview from the museum website