Fort Makers Presents Keith Simpson:
Collection of Ceramic Automobiles Explores the Mythology of the Car as an Imperfect Symbol of Youth, Freedom, and the American Dream
Fort Makers is pleased to present CARS, a new online solo exhibition by artist Keith Simpson featuring a fleet of ceramic automobiles. An affectionate record of coming-of-age and industrial design, the collection consists of over 20 ceramic sculptures. In lieu of a public opening in our concept store and gallery space, Fort Makers is excited to launch our first digital drop, allowing our community to interact with Simpson's work online.
Much of Simpson’s interest stems from the mythology of the car as an imperfect symbol of youth, freedom, and the American Dream. Elaborating on how these vehicles became vessels of teen refuge and rebellion, Simpson explores the illusory, escapist mythos of the car by embracing its fossilization. His ceramic cars are made to be a record of time, imagining a post-car world where these pieces of technology become relics of history. At a time when the automobile as we know it is rapidly approaching obsolescence, Simpson playfully distills our emotional attachment to them with humor and compassion.
The models referenced in the clay vehicles—some from Simpson’s memories, the others era-appropriate approximations—have been thumbed and pinched into quasi-familiar ceramic forms that are larger than a model or toy car, but smaller than a bust. They also occasionally imply subtle micro-narratives, as with a small wad of haphazardly placed clay resembling two lovers sitting on the bench seat of a 1969 Dodge Dart. As impressionistic idols of the artist’s youth, the works are, as with human memory, both imprecise and hyper-specific.
Recalling the archetypes of a particular kind of American adolescence, Simpson says, “These objects are for those that shared first kisses with brace-faced delinquents across the center consoles of dented old Hondas, or snuck to the parking lot to listen to mixtapes and smoke cigarettes during high school assemblies.”
“Toy cars are a staple of childhood, and one of the first sites of convergence between the ideas of mechanization and the appeal of fantasy and play,” says Fort Makers Creative Director Nana Spears. “In a way, Keith’s pieces—cars that don’t run, toys that can’t be played with—question that instinct. They offer a timely meditation on our tendency to project our escapist desires—from space travel to high school angst—onto objects of technology.”