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Rose B. Simpson

Crown I


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Crown I consists of a clay bust of a gender-ambiguous, postapocalyptic Indigenous warrior adorned with both found and crafted items. The work alludes to a history scarred by conquest and genocide while also looking forward to a future yet to unfold. The head of the figure includes two large horn shapes, and the face is painted with black markings, including "+" and "x," which Simpson employs as symbols denoting direction and protection, respectively. Hailing from a multigenerational family of Indigenous clay artists, Simpson incor­porates both inherited techniques and one she developed called "slap-slab," wherein she repeatedly throws clay against the floor on a diagonal until it is extremely thin and then incorporates the pieces into the sculpture. Adornments, or what she calls "power objects," are added after the initial sculpture is created as a means of "setting intention into the clay" and as symbols of empowerment. Several necklaces made with clay feathers, small bowls, and masks strung on leather supports are positioned around the neck of the bust and on its metal base, which is made from welded tractor parts. The artist often integrates found pieces of metal into her sculptures, bits of scrap that, as she states, "have lived a life, have memory." [Permanent collection label, 2023]


  • Artist Rose B. Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo, b. 1983)
  • Title Crown I
  • Date 2017
  • Medium Ceramic, steel, and leather
  • Dimensions unframed | overall, 66 x 14 x 10 in.
  • Credit line Universtity purchase, Bixby Fund and Eliza McMillan Fund, and with funds from Helen Kornblum, 2022
  • Object number WU 2022.0004 a-d
  • Currently on View James M. Kemper Gallery, Room 3

New Acquisitions in Contemporary Art
Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis, 07/19/2023 James M. Kemper Gallery, Room 3

Received 4/4/2022; approved by ACC 5/4/2022; gallery received payment 5/26/2022
Jessica Silverman Gallery

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