JACKSON — Chronicling a pivotal moment in the artist’s career, when his contemporary artistic practice converged with his Native American heritage, “Jeffrey Gibson: Like A Hammer” explores the universal themes of race, power, control, stereotypes, and colonialism, as well as love, community, strength, vulnerability, and survival.
The exhibition, which opens to the public on Sept. 8 at 10 a.m. at the Mississippi Museum of Art, displays Gibson’s “unique ability to incorporate Indigenous aesthetics with non-Native influences to create something new, without losing touch with the past,” wrote John P. Lukavic, DAM’s associate curator of Native Arts, in the DAM-produced companion exhibition catalog. Gibson is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and is half Cherokee.
Featuring approximately 65 objects created from an assortment of materials — rawhide, tipi poles, sterling silver, wool blankets, metal cones, beads, fringe, and sinew to punching bags, ironing boards, looking glasses — the exhibition includes large and mid-sized figurative works, text-based wall hangings, painted works on rawhide and canvas, videos, and a significant selection of Gibson’s signature Everlast beaded punching bags. These work frequently incorporate language drawn from popular song lyrics, poems, and the artist’s own writings.
“Like A Hammer features works from one of the most important periods of my career so far,” Gibson said. “The exhibition begins with artworks that I made just after nearly giving up making art altogether due to feeling misunderstood as an artist and struggling to establish a personal language that describes my experience without compromising it. The objects, sculptures, and paintings I’ve made since 2011 document this journey of establishing my own forward-looking voice influenced by all that has come before me.”