Jeffrey Gibson: Speak to Me

at Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center

Jeffrey Gibson is a multimedia artist whose practice includes painting, sculpture, fiber, ceramics, video and performance. His solo exhibition, Jeffrey Gibson: Speak To Me, features recent artworks that draw upon his Native American heritage (Choctaw and Cherokee) and intertribal aesthetics and traditions. He effectively combines this mix of references into unique artworks that additionally employ text to address issues and events beyond his own subjectivity. Gibson’s artworks draw thoughtful attention to these cultural and historical traditions while affirming their vitality and relevance to contemporary life.

The centerpiece of Speak to Me is a video, titled “one becomes the other,” that Gibson produced during a residency at the Denver Art Museum. “One becomes the other” brought together members of the Denver pow wow community with objects from the museum’s vast Native American collection. The video shows a series of conversations between the individual dancers and their chosen objects. The objects are addressed as living beings, and the expected notion that they are inanimate objects only to be looked at is subverted through the unscripted and genuine dialogue captured in the video.

This idea — that we can have conversations with objects, that objects can tell stories — extends to the rest of the artworks in the exhibition. From the ceramic heads that reference the often-untold stories of the Mississippian culture to beaded panels with quotes from pop songs that relate to Gibson’s search for his own identity, each artwork has a narrative, which often shifts and changes in relation to the viewer’s own experience.

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