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In-Between

November 14, 2015

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MAGAZINE
ART | CONTEMPORARY

In-Between

The Art of Jeffrey Gibson

Text & Layout by bill indursky
images COURTESY OF MARC STRAUS GALLERY
November 14, 2015

 

I t is easy to understand why forty-three year old artist Jeffrey Gibson is so interested in the in-between. He was raised by parents who had proudly displayed baskets and textiles of their native tribes, Choctaw and Cherokee, but had given Jeffrey an Anglo-saxon-style name to avoid any outward stigma. Growing up his cousins would attend pow wows while Jeffrey rode bikes with other children in his neighborhood. “The funny thing is that I never really liked the textiles and baskets from my childhood. The baskets where Cherokee and made with man-made acrylic fibers that were far too bright and too 70s,” Gibson recalls.

Gibson is filled with many polar extremes. He constantly struggles between stylistic modes of minimalism and maximalism. “A collector once told me that I put too much into one thing, that I needed to simplify and focus,” explains Jeffrey, who chose to ignore the collector. Gibson felt the extreme poles in his artistic training at the Art Institute of Chicago, “When I attended art school, Native American artists were not mentioned or considered and museums kept their Native American art within the Decorative Arts Department, not the Fine Art Department.” The work of Native Americans were relegated to decoration void of narrative and purpose, but felt in his heart the opposite. His identity struggle was only just beginning. The artist would struggle with location, a love-hate relationship with New York City, struggle with his body image being a larger man, struggle with his sexual identity being gay.

“I was carrying around a lot of anger. I went to see a therapist and it was amazing how much came up.” After several years, the therapist helped Gibson with some health issues by recommending a physical therapist in Brooklyn who introduced him to boxing. “I thought, this is definitely not going to be for me, but when I tried it the first time, I was amazed at how satisfying it was.” Gibson was required to direct his anger and build health by hitting a heavy bag; which eventually found its way decorated and adorned in the upstairs space at his current solo show at Marc Straus Gallery in New York City (October 25 to December 13).

The show features minimal geometric paintings on tanned hides on the ground level and a series of abstract clothed animal figures, beaded wall hangings, and adorned heavy bags upstairs. “The original idea was to have forty beaded heavy-bags to create an installation,” says Gibson. “But, I got only a few done. It was a lot of work.” The show represents fourteen months of labor by the artist who has now begun to prepare for a performance in 2017 and an upcoming museum show.

The artist is fascinated with theory. “Someone recently explained minimalism to me in a way I understand. They said that minimalism is trying to focus and witness what happens between the set spaces… to me it is portal to more,” says Gibson. Gibson’s work is the embodiment of maximalistic minimal and in a gallery that is in the heart of Chinatown displaying a Native American artist, it is perfectly situated in the in-between.

Jeffrey Gibson’s solo show is at Marc Straus Gallery, 299 Grand St, New York, NY 10002
(212) 510-7646, October 25 – December 13, 2015, http://marcstraus.com

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Jeffrey Gibson Contemporary Native-American Art

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About the author: Bill Indursky

Bill Indursky is an architect, trend expert, and digital entrepreneur. He is the former founder of V&M (Vintage & Modern (2006-2013)) and the current founder of Design Life Network (DLN). DLN is a MAGAZINE + DESIGN AGENCY + MARKETPLACE + TV CHANNEL promoting inspiring design of all eras online and on TV.



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