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Jeffrey Gibson at Roberts Projects
January 9, 2021 - February 20, 2021
At Roberts Projects in Culver City, a solo show by Jeffrey Gibson delights in meticulously crafted details. Part Choctaw and part Cherokee, Gibson calls upon craft traditions, like Iroquois beadwork, and infuses them with homages to pop-culture, music, and activism. Across the exhibition, lyrics from Tracy Chapman, Björk, and the Beatles are referenced in Gibson’s titles like “THE LOVE YOU GIVE IS THE LOVE YOU GET,” a meticulously beaded punching page that includes the Beatles lyrics carefully stitched across its patterned surface.
The work upends the function of a punching bag through the application of beads, transforming an aggressive act into a peaceful and healing message. Several works in the show display messages of self-empowerment (such as “I CAN BE SOMEBODY,”), while others celebrate a fluid and inclusive gender identity. The title work “IT CAN BE SAID OF THEM” is lifted from a Sister Corita Kent print that celebrates four male leaders — Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy — who influenced the civil rights movement of the 1960s. In the poster, Kent’s text begins with “It can be said of him…” which Gibson poignantly upends, replacing the male pronoun with the more inclusive “them.” A wall-work that combines both beaded tapestry and painted surfaces reads “THEY CHOOSE THEIR FAMILY.” Gibson explains that “Many LGBTQI people have been rejected by their friends, family and society. We have found support, love and mentors within the LGBTQI communities that we have been a part of and have defined these people as our chosen families.” As such, across the show, Gibson calls upon past traditions to chart a path forward that celebrates the individual while honoring community, both given and chosen.
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Image courtesy of Jeffrey Gibson and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California.