Trustees announce Counterculture, a public art installation by Rose B. Simpson

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Trustees announce Counterculture, a public art installation by Rose B. Simpson
Installation view of Rose B. Simpson, Counterculture (2022). At Field Farm in Williamstown, Massachusetts Photo © Matthew Healey, courtesy of The Trustees.

WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS.- The Trustees of Reservations presents Counterculture, a new large-scale public artwork by media artist Rose B. Simpson (b. 1983, Santa Clara Pueblo) at Field Farm in Williamstown starting in June. Counterculture was commissioned as part of The Trustees’ Art & The Landscape public art series, whose goal is to create new experiences inspired by its iconic properties.

Counterculture has been installed along the horizon line of a meadow at Field Farm that is visible from nearby Sloan Road. The exhibit consists of 12 figural sculptures honoring the transcendental nature of ancestral place—a spirit that has been holding vigil through patriarchy, capitalization, and colonization. These figures are a reminder of a force that perseveres.

The installation consists of 12 hollow, concrete-clay forms supported by steel-gauge wireframes that stand approximately nine feet tall. The figures are covered with a dry concrete spray, adorned with ceramic and found objects, and include a steel-post stanchion rooted in the ground with cement.

“Rose is an extraordinarily talented artist with whom we’re partnering at a unique inflection point in this country’s history,” said Jessica May, Trustees’ Managing Director of Art & Exhibitions. “We support Rose’s work as a thoughtful and respectful acknowledgment of the people whose stories tend to be marginalized or forgotten by history.”

Counterculture is Simpson’s first public art commission and largest project to date. Simpson descends from a tribe famous for ceramics made by women since the 6th century. Her work builds on this tradition while also addressing the emotional and existential impacts of our collective humanity. The figures look west across a post-apocalyptic vista, the vast homelands from which native peoples were forcibly removed to make way for settler colonialism. The artist positions the Counterculture figures as watchful presences, perpetually observing humanity and reminding us what the original stewards of these lands already knew—that we are all guests in the natural world. Like mothers looking over their children, the all-seeing, feminine-bodied forms implore us to go forward with respect and honor for all that came before.

“I hope this work serves as a reminder of our responsibility and the way that we’re always visitors here and should act as such,” Simpson said. “The pieces represent the many ancestors and inanimate things that are always watching and holding us accountable for the way that we move through the world.”

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