Field Farm Sculptures ‘Witnesses’ to the Land’s History Hunker

“Counterculture,” a series of 12 cast concrete statues by artist Rose B. Simpson, is on display at Field Farm in Williamstown through November.
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The “counterculture” is on display until November.
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The heads of the statues start to appear as you approach.
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Jamilee Lacy, guest curator of the Reservations Administrators 2022 Art and Landscape Program, says they thought very carefully about where the “counterculture” would fit best.

Artist Rose B. Simpson says it’s about challenging stories and perceptions and finding connections.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – Twelve cast concrete figures dominate the meadows of Field Farm, their haunting gaze prompting the viewer to consider the generations of marginalized people and cultures whose voices have been silenced by colonization.

Artist Rose B. Simpson said the statues act as witnesses and a reminder of the country’s history. Hollow eyes look at everything from the air, the wind and the sky.

“We’re up there on the ladder, I could see the wind blowing by, in the dust coming out of the eye and it made me realize that the wind was actually whistling in the eye and there was so many layers of what looked after you that we usually forget that we are held accountable by forces over which we forget we have any power,” Simpson said.

The responsibility that these characters expect is a non-judgmental awareness and seeing these connections to the land, the story, and the characters.

“That we’re not just passing judgment on the world around us, but we’re also seriously aware of ourselves and that’s not about self-deprecation,” Simpson said.

“It’s about noticing our connection between things and and taking on a role of responsibility and nurturing. And as a parent of our life story as the author of that existence.”

Witnessing this story and hearing these voices acts as a catalyst for learning and questioning the things we are certain of. Simpson said a big part of her job is learning “to slow down and question every moment.”

“Challenge the things I think I know for sure. Challenge the things I’m told. Challenge those stories and the perspectives, then look deeper into whatever situation we find ourselves in,” he said she stated.

“As I work to find this within myself, I hope that the things I do in this investigation of my personal evolution and growth become opportunities for others to see this within themselves. ”

Jamilee Lacy, guest curator of the Trustees of Reservations’ Art & Landscape 2022 programme, said they thought very carefully about where on the Trustees’ sites these works, titled “Counterculture”, would have the most impact. They needed to find a place that would work well with these inanimate beings, which is such a big part of the research that goes into Simpson’s work.

“This site is so special because you have these incredible views, you have the ecological preservation of the site. And so for these characters to preside over and/or reside with the natural environment that is here, seemed like the perfect opportunity, ‘ Lacy said.

“And also, I think what’s so meaningful and unique about Rose’s work is that it’s not a spectacle. It’s a really important meditation on the landscape, the environment, the people who have inhabited these lands. So it’s really a great collaboration.”

Lacy also noted that this land was a great place because it gave the characters the privacy, so to speak, to rest. The figures seem to emerge from the meadow as the visitor ascends.

“So I think that’s why we thought it was a really great site because there’s also a bit of privacy for these characters. They have a bit of time to rest, they’re not intended for consumption proper, they are here to commune and reunite with other people and then take a little break under the stars,” Lacy said.

While casting the figures, the sculpting house asked Simpson if she wanted to clean up the pour lines and bubbles that formed, but she said no because she wanted to see the process and show the marks that add to the individuality and beauty of the figurines.

This temporary installation, which will run until November 30, will travel to other locations that have different characteristics and Simpson said she hopes to be able to reach tribal communities. She said that after spending time with this land and establishing a relationship with it, she is now a part of it forever.

“I keep thinking what an honor to be here more than any building, any piece of architecture I could imagine. That this area is the greatest honor I could imagine. And that these pieces last through the seasons and look at this place so deeply and for so long,” Simpson said.

“They can be sat by birds. They can watch the stars, walk through the night, they get silence, they get winds, they can watch animals crawling through the grass. It’s so active, it’s so full, it’s so rich. It’s so absolutely amazing

Simpson, a Santa Clara Pueblo, said she thinks of the people who have been taken from this land and how heartbreaking it is to have to commune with their ancestors miles away.

“It’s good to start thinking about what we can do to get repairs to bring them home. To see this not just as an interesting call, but oh as a call to action, as a call to heal, as a call to say ‘go home, feel these mountains in your soul, let the ancestors welcome you.’ Their ancestors still walk here and what would it be like to be torn from them,” Simpson said.

Simpson said she is blessed to live in her ancestral lands where her story is deeply rooted in the land over which her family presides.

You can pray that you can commune with your ancestors, it’s vital to listen go ask for direction and hear what they have to say, instead of calling across the states for answers. That distance between that is really tough,” Simpson said.

“Start looking for ways to return land to these people and bring their presence back because I can say the land wants it. The land is calling its people back.”

Key words: art exhibition, booking trustees,