b. 1972, United States

Jeffrey Gibson Biography

American painter and sculptor Jeffrey Gibson creates autobiographical works that merge his international upbringing and Choctaw-Cherokee heritage. Gibson is the first Native American artist to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale in 2024.

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Early Life and Education

Born in 1972 in Colorado Springs, United States, Jeffrey Gibson moved often as a child, living in North Carolina, New Jersey, Germany, and South Korea, following his father who worked as a supplier for the United States Department of Defense.

Upon returning to the United States, Gibson earned a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1995 and an MFA from Royal College of Art, London, in 1998, sponsored by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

Jeffrey Gibson Artworks

Seeking to reframe Native American crafts using modernist techniques, Gibson's work across painting, collage, and sculpture often blends materials, methods, and processes to speak to historically marginalised identities and the complexities of cultural hybridity.

'Monotype' print series (2008)

Gibson's distinct perspective as a queer Native American man with an international upbringing is commonly expressed in the material blends in his work, from objects such as beadwork, trading-post blankets, metal studs, and fringe, to layers of abstract and found imagery.

In the artist's 'Monotype' series (2008), a hint of the same face and mouth is concealed within abstract backgrounds across a series of prints. Identity appears to shift alongside the figure's immediate environment, calling into question how identity is defined and recognised.

Merging Materials — Sculptures

Often featuring animals and standing figures, Gibson's mixed-media sculptures similarly embody the congregation of diverse influences within a single person. For instance, the purple Eskimo homakbi tvli (2020) comprises a small Frankenstein with distinct textures across its body parts assembled from glass beads, felt, sequins, and brass.

Other sculptures are formed from punching bags that Gibson beads in patterns inspired by clothing worn by powwow dancers. They are inscribed with slogans like YES! WE CAN (2020), nodding to the start of a movement for voices that have yet to enter the mainstream.

'I consider this hybrid in the construction of my work and attempt to show that complexity,' Gibson said in 2011. 'Because I didn't grow up in a Native community, I would ask myself, 'Am I a participant?' 'Am I an observer?' 'Where do I stand in there?'

Combining Materials — Musical Influences

Music is among the core influences across Gibson's vibrant paintings, collages, and print, which seek to create sensory experiences that ground viewers in the present, inspired by the live music he listened to growing up in the 1980s and 90s.

Notable for their hallucinatory quality, the artist's mixed-media collages include re-interpretations of ethnographic portraits of Native Americans painted by American artist Elbridge Ayer Burbank, which introduced stereotypes of Native populations in the United States.

Gibson's remixes contest such representations with abundant and bright collages of Native American figures overlaid with collected imagery, beadwork and textiles, geometric patterns, and memorabilia such as hairpieces and lockets.

Among them, White Swan (2021) sets the solemn figure of a Native American man at the centre of overlapping quadrants washed over by a layer of acid yellow. Three colour wheels and two rainbow-shaded barrettes surround the figure, calling attention to the process of image-making.

Gibson's more dynamic compositions suggest tradition requires re-interpretation, as people change with time, in addition to acknowledgement. This perspective is expressed in text-based prints such as LOOK HOW FAR WE'VE COME! (2016), which layers wrapped assertion from its title with a bright-orange text calling to 'believe!'.

Awards and Accolades

Jeffrey Gibson is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2019); Joan Mitchell Foundation, Painters and Sculptors Award (2015); and Creative Capital Foundation Grant (2005).

Exhibitions

Jeffrey Gibson's work has been shown widely in North America, Europe, the U.K., and Australia.

Select solo exhibitions include Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; Frist Art Museum (both 2023); Aspen Art Museum, Colorado; Portland Art Museum; Institute of Contemporary Art, San Francisco (all 2022); Kavi Gupta, Chicago; Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York City; Roberts Projects, Culver City (all 2021); Brooklyn Museum (2020); and New Museum, New York; Blanton Museum of Art, Austin (both 2019).

Selected group exhibitions include Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Phillips Collection, Washington DC (both 2023); Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2022); Institute of Contemporary Art Boston (2021); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2020); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City (2019); and Whitney Biennial 2019.

The artist lives and works in Hudson Valley, New York, United States.

Gallery

Jeffrey Gibson is represented by Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York; Stephen Friedman Gallery, London; and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles.

Elaine YJ Zheng | Ocula | 2023

Jeffrey Gibson
featured artworks

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Every Eye Open by Jeffrey Gibson contemporary artwork sculpture, ceramics
Jeffrey Gibson Every Eye Open, 2016 Glazed ceramic
18.5 x 15 x 10.5 inches
Roberts Projects Request Price & Availability
Shadowboxer by Jeffrey Gibson contemporary artwork painting, sculpture, drawing
Jeffrey Gibson Shadowboxer, 2018 Acrylic and graphite on raw hide over wood panel inset into wood frame
26 x 19 x 1.75 inches
Roberts Projects Request Price & Availability
Chief Pretty Eagle by Jeffrey Gibson contemporary artwork painting, sculpture, mixed media
Jeffrey Gibson Chief Pretty Eagle, 2020 Mixed media collage, acrylic paint, vintage beaded eyeglass case, vintage beaded barrette, vintage papers, found pin, glass beads, glitter, urethane.
162.6 x 121.9 x 3.8 cm
Sold
Kavi Gupta
White Swan by Jeffrey Gibson contemporary artwork painting, sculpture, ceramics
Jeffrey Gibson White Swan, 2021 Mixed media collage, acrylic paint, vintage beaded barrette (glass beads, suede, cotton thread), vintage beaded appliqué (glass beads, polyester, thread) glass beads, nylon thread
162.6 x 121.9 x 3.8 cm
Sold
Kavi Gupta
Pahl Lee by Jeffrey Gibson contemporary artwork painting, sculpture, ceramics
Jeffrey Gibson Pahl Lee, 2021 Mixed media collage, acrylic paint, vintage beaded handbag (glass beads, cotton fabric, leather, brass enclosure, polyester, cotton thread), glass beads
162.6 x 121.9 x 3.8 cm
Sold
Kavi Gupta
Chief Black Coyote by Jeffrey Gibson contemporary artwork painting, sculpture
Jeffrey Gibson Chief Black Coyote, 2021 Mixed media collage, acrylic paint, vintage beaded barrette , vintage beaded belt buckle, vintage pin, beaded belt, glass beads, nylon thread.
180.3 x 121.9 x 3.8 cm
Sold
Kavi Gupta
BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY by Jeffrey Gibson contemporary artwork painting, sculpture, mixed media
Jeffrey Gibson BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY, 2021 Canvas, acrylic paint, glass beads, artifcial sinew, nylon thread, vintage beaded belt buckle (Suede, glass beads, cotton thread), vintage beaded whimsey (Cotton fabric, velvet, glass beads...
168.9 x 128.3 cm
Sold
Kavi Gupta
LET ME BE WHO YOU NEED ME TO BE by Jeffrey Gibson contemporary artwork painting, sculpture, mixed media
Jeffrey Gibson LET ME BE WHO YOU NEED ME TO BE, 2020 Acrylic on canvas, glass beads, and artificial sinew inset into custom wood frame
198.1 x 116.8 x 6.3 cm
Kavi Gupta Request Price & Availability
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