Local artist Rose B Simpson is a graduate of RISD as well as the now defunct automotive science program at Northern New Mexico College in Española. She is a complete badass, which she proves doubly by being a car fanatic and having a piece in the upcoming Con Cariño exhibit on lowriders and lowrider culture at the New Mexico Museum of Art (107 W Palace Ave., 476-5072).
What got you into working on cars?
I got into working on cars because I believe in the power of relationship. Understanding how a car works, propels us forward, and also how it is made, is an empowering feeling. To build relationships with our world in aesthetic ways, to be connected to our physical capacities as creators, and to be aware of how each moment can become a piece of art creates relational aesthetic experiences. Working on cars is art in itself, much like the rest of our creative lives. There is no beginning nor end to our capacity to exist aesthetically. This is also a reaction to the Western art paradigm, wherein art has been very separated from the "rest of life," which offends me deeply.
Are there any difficulties in being a woman in that world?
Being involved in "that world" (the one of cars and car enthusiasts, I suppose) as a woman only becomes special because most of the people involved in the car culture are male. As a child, I never thought that there were roles for genders. Mama built the house and fixed the car and didn't let anyone else use her chainsaw. When I was older, she bought me my own chainsaw. As I followed my dreams, they led me, again and again, into male-dominated worlds. The only times that I have been frustrated in these worlds is when people assume that the only place a woman belongs in a "man's world' is in a photograph, scantily clad and draped over a fender. This objectification of women reflects our society's inability to build intimate and vulnerable relationships with everything in our lives. This, also, reflects our relationship to our planet and how we have objectified spirituality, natural resources, material things and each other.
What pieces do you have in Con Cariño?
I have several pieces of art in Con Carino; I have recreated a vase that I made several years ago, which features a '64 Riviera and a '57 Chevy panel van, two vehicles that I find aesthetically appealing. It also features portraits of my gender-role deconstructing performers in their post-apocalyptic warrior getup, to juxtapose what I find beautiful and empowering with how women are usually depicted with cars. Around the lip are the words "I have arrived," in Old English font, to state a phrase that I often use to remind myself of the power of the present moment. This vase is about honoring the aesthetic awareness that can be present in every moment. There are also large printed photographs that Kate Russell took of my '85 El Camino, Maria, and two of my performers in warrior garb. The El Camino is painted like that of a Maria Martinez pot, referencing my Indigenous background and aesthetic.