I.C. SIMPSON | IMAGINING THE UNSEEN / by Margaret Hernandez


   As an artist I feel that I am only following my human nature and natural inclinations. I am curious and inquisitive and want to examine the big questions of the universe. I want to explore our physical and spiritual essences and our place in the world. I work with my hands and express myself visually. This seems to, inevitably, make me a visual artist. I have been slowly establishing myself as an artist and settling fully into art. I have studied art, practiced art, and am more and more finding what I want to say.

   I have a love of materials of all sorts. I work with clay and metal. I paint and make prints. Currently, I am gravitating towards the potential of simple materials, the stuff of building supplies combined with simple design and texture. The meaning comes visually not verbally. Interpretation is possible but comes later with reflection. The artwork is meant to be immediate and fundamental.

   Much of my current body of work is mixed media sculpture where I find component materials have a very strong impact on the textures, patinas, and even structures of the finished artwork. Materials say what they want to be, what they can be. Artists can work with material to reveal a message that melds the expression of the artist with possibility of the material. 

Q & A with artist I.C. Simpson

What are you currently reading, listening to or looking at to fuel your work?
Recently read Phaidon Arte Povera book.
Seeing exhibits: the Richard Deacon show at the SDMA was inspiring.

Marisa Merz at the the Hammer was good.
And recently Carl Andre at the Geffen downtown LA. Noah Purifoy with Dada Junk and Agnes Martin at LACMA a bit ago.
Great selections of art to see in SoCal.
Starting a book about the evolution of the mind: Origins of the Modern Mind by Merlin Donald.

What are your biggest challenges to creating art and how do you deal with them? How do you navigate the art world?
I struggle with motivation. I like to make work for a set show. Gets me going.

I like to read about art. I collect catalogs and read about artists. I visit museums to see particular shows and artists. I visit galleries and openings. I travel with art and culture in mind.
I am involved at OMA as a volunteer and as a showing member of Artist Alliance. I am a newish member with North County Sculpture Salon.
I try to see gallery exhibits even though I do have trouble getting to San Diego at the right times. I try to see the things that come to North County.

What mediums do you work with? How would you describe your subject matter?
I work in a number of media. Mixed media, often building materials. Ceramics both functional and sculpture, dependent on studio. Painting, drawing, and printmaking.

When people ask you what you “do”, how do you answer?
More and more I say Iʼm an artist.

Describe a childhood memory that has influenced your artwork.
As a fairly young child, around ten or so, a friendʼs mother took us to a naval scrap yard. I found one piece in particular, a four inch square of two inch steel with the corners drilled out. The result was a cross of polished rusted metal with a engaging shape and appealing patina. Unfortunately, the piece has been lost. I miss it.

Has there been a shift or change in your life or work that has led to what youʼre making now? Do you see your work as autobiographical at all?
In 2001 I started taking classes at Palomar College starting in jewelry making and continuing on in ceramics and sculpture including foundry. This was a

change in focus from 2-D to 3-D. Without a commitment to a personal ceramics studio, I gravitated to mixed media sculpture using readily available materials. Not really autobiographical, more a minimalist lack of meaning. The meaning sometimes comes to me though association after looking at finished artwork or sometimes as part of the process. The work is often a response to the basic questions of the world and universe. The answers are not always easy to verbalize.

What is your personal message to your artwork and how does that connect to a communal and universal message?
There may be a message but it is more visual and abstract that verbal. Difficult to verbalize the message.

Do you intend your work to challenge the viewer?                                                                   Probably not. I hope to engage the viewer and their emotions in feeling the art.

Is the creative impulse driven by a personal need to ease pain and/or satiate desire?
No. Maybe the desire to create and work with my hands.

What three things never fail to bring you pleasure?                                                                       Great art.
Great design.
Great ideas and great explanations of ideas.

Whatʼs your motto?                                                                                                                               Be open to good things.