The seven cast-concrete figures comprising Rose B. Simpson’s Counterculture are intended as witnesses — reminders that the natural world is continuously watching humanity. The work is on view at the Art Preserve in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, through February 25, 2024.
Simpson’s sculptures are traveling to different sites across the country. Installed on the grounds of the Art Preserve at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, they will observe the Midwest’s shift of seasons from summer to fall and into winter.
The feminine-bodied forms aim to show grace in their vigilance and space taking, carrying necklaces made of ceramic beads instead of taking up weapons. Their presence suggests that we, too, should listen and humble ourselves to the natural world, and tune into the ways in which we are responsible for the exploitation of our environment’s limited resources.
Simpson descends from an Indigenous American tribe famous for their ceramics made by women since the sixth century. Her work builds on this tradition with new materials and methods. Each dyed and cast concrete figure stands approximately 10 feet tall. Their textured, earth-toned forms pay homage to landscapes near and far. The figures are adorned with cable and ceramic necklaces that Simpson shaped with fireclay from her native lands in New Mexico.
Counterculture was created for and originally installed on the ancestral lands of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians, in present-day Williamstown, Massachusetts. The sculptures’ move to Wisconsin traces the path of forced removal experienced by the Stockbridge-Munsee Community, which today is located on their reservation in northeastern Wisconsin, with members also living in other parts of the state, the United States, and the world.
The Art Preserve showcases the John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s renowned collection of artist-built environments through immersive installations and curated displays. Admission is free.
For more information, visit jmkac.org.
Counterculture is organized by guest curator Jamilee Lacy in partnership with The Trustees and staff at its deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts, as part of its Art & The Landscape initiative. The Trustees gratefully acknowledge support for Art & the Landscape 2022 from The Wagner Foundation and from the following individual donors: Janet and David Offensend, Valentine Talland and Nagesh K. Mahanthappa, Marjorie and Nick Greville, Chris Rifkin, and an anonymous donor.