This is the Day”
Blanton Museum of Art, Through September 29
by Holly Cowart
Photographs by Pete Mauney
Few contemporary artists today better exemplify inclusivity than Jeffrey Gibson. Of Cherokee and Choctaw descent, he was born in Colorado in 1972 but grew up around the world in places like Germany and Korea. Identifying as queer, the painter and sculptor, who has both his BFA and MA, presently resides in New York. From a lifelong exploration of these perspectives, he’s found a unifying bridge connecting his many labels, allowing him to create visibility for marginalized demographics through his breathtaking body of work.
“This Is the Day,” at the Blanton Museum of Art through September 29, is a specially curated series of Gibson’s art produced from 2014 to 2018. Stepping into the space, viewers are greeted by towering ceremonial pow wow garments patterned with vivid materials ranging from yarn to brass to varieties of beads. Intricately embellished ritualistic helmets are displayed side by side, each a depiction of relatable human experiences, including love, death and the ocean. Reflective quotes taken from pop culture songs and authors are emblazoned across punching bags and expertly crafted tapestries. “Look how far we’ve come!” one piece exclaims. The outcome of these 50-plus works is a celebration of hope and acceptance, as deeply personal to Gibson as it is universally shared. “I rarely see my body represented in popular culture,” the artist explains. “But my practice is where I call the shots, and I am trying to make the world I envision.”