Jeffrey Gibson is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, and half Cherokee, although he grew up in major urban centers in the United States, Germany, Korea, and England etc.
This unique combination of global cultural influences—including club culture, fashion, music, politics, literature, queer theory, and art history—informs Jeffrey's multi-disciplinary practice.
Often referred to as cultural and visual mashups, Jeffrey's hybrid aesthetic objects incorporate materials and techniques from Native American culture. These sources include weaving, beadwork, jingles, rawhide, parflèche, and powwow regalia. While aware of the belief systems that motivate, define, and imbue traditional objects with specific meaning and power, Jeffrey attempts to see them anew. He embraces the tension of his position as both an individual of the culture and an artistic voice occupying space outside of it.
Jeffrey employs various artistic strategies to make boundary-bending objects that amplify and celebrate difference. His ongoing interest in the value system of craft traditions, wherein meaning unfolds through the process of making, is seamlessly merged with hard-edged, geometric abstraction. He is in dialogue with the history of modernist abstract painting, but he arrives there through references to the inter-tribal patterns and shapes found in traditional textiles and blankets. He embraces the non-hierarchical, flattening visual effects of Pop Art, in which elements are sampled, removed from context, remixed, and recombined to make new meaning. He blurs the boundary between viewing and reading by using words as images. Appropriated texts are transformed into first person voices, and the meaning of these words shifts with each new reader and context.
Polyphonic, visually and materially textured, rooted in the past and present, and culturally and conceptually loaded, his works are symbols of complication. Layered and recombined to the point of obscurity, Gibson’s sources are eventually drained of any singular cultural, political, medium- or time-based association. In place of reductive labels, the artist proposes a future, unbound aesthetic. www.marquette.edu/haggerty/Look-How-Far-Weve-Come…
He completed his Master of Arts degree in painting at The Royal College of Art, London in 1998 and his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1995.
Jeffrey's artwork intermingles elements of traditional Native American art with contemporary artistic references. Thus powwow regalia, 19th century parfleche containers, and drums are seamlessly merged with elements of Modernist geometric abstraction, Minimalism, and Pattern and Decoration. Here there is an echo of Frank Stella and Josef Albers – canonized in our current dialogue which has little or no inclusion of Native American art which Gibson provides comparable weight and equivalence.
Jeffrey's artworks are in the permanent collections of many major art museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Smithsonian, the National Gallery of Canada, the Nasher, the Nerman, Crystal Bridges, and the Denver Art Museum. Recent solo exhibitions include SCAD Museum of Art (Savannah and Atlanta), the National Academy Museum in New York, The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and the Cornell Museum of Fine Art.
The Denver Art Museum mounted a traveling mid-career survey in the Spring of 2018, which was followed by a smaller solo exhibition at the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art in the fall of 2018. He has participated in Greater New York, Prospect New Orleans, the Everson Biennale, and Site Santa Fe. Jeffrey is a member of the faculty at Bard College and a past TED Foundation Fellow and Joan Mitchell Grant recipient. www.marcstraus.com/artists/jeffrey-gibson/