Stepping into the galleries of the Blanton’s latest exhibition Jeffrey Gibson: This Is the Day is like walking into a vibrant, inclusive future. Contemporary artist Jeffrey Gibson brings together his Choctaw and Cherokee heritage, as well as his queer identity, with a range of diverse artistic and cultural influences to create works that explore and celebrate the unique identities we all carry and embody. Here are some of the empowering artworks you’ll encounter at the Blanton:
The five helmets on display are ornamented with gorgeous organic materials, such as quartz crystals, amethyst geodes, and coral, as well as found objects, including toys, charms, and cake toppers. Weighing between 35 and 55 pounds, each explores a singular theme ranging from death to the ocean.
The meticulous craftsmanship in Gibson’s beaded punching bag, titled LOVE IS THE DRUG, is sure to inspire guests to call themselves lovers, not fighters.
The exhibition includes seven oversized garments with deliberately gender-ambiguous identification. “I rarely see my body represented in popular culture,” the artist says, “but my practice is where I call the shots, and I am trying to make the world I envision.”
Gibson’s bold geometric paintings and beaded wall hangings are sure to entrance. Be on the lookout for references to ‘80s and ‘90s gender-bending performers, like Boy George and Grace Jones, as well as empowering authors like James Baldwin and Simone de Beauvoir.
Jeffrey Gibson. I Was Here (still), 2018. Duration 8 minutes, 15 seconds. Collection of the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College, Clinton, NY. Commission, Daniel W. Dietrich ’64 Arts Museum Programming Fund. © Jeffrey Gibson. Videography by Brett Novak.
Also included in the exhibition is a video featuring the life of Macy, a trans woman and member of the Choctaw Nation. Set on the Choctaw reservation in rural Mississippi (where Gibson’s family is from), the film explores ideas related to the performance of gender identity, relationship to landscape, spirituality, and rituals. The work is titled I Was Here (based off of the Beyoncé song of the same name, which Macy describes as one of her personal anthems).