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NATIVE NOUVEAU: Artist Jeffrey Gibson’s multi-media works exhibit at Oklahoma Contemporary

Courtesy of Oklahoma Contemporary
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Contemporary Native American artist Jeffrey Gibson is a highly individualized multi-media creator who is also proud to wear his influences on his sleeve; they are extremely prevalent in his latest exhibit entitled Speak to Me, currently showing at Oklahoma Contemporary, 3000 General Pershing Blvd., through mid-June.

Fresh from solo exhibitions at the Savanna College of Art and Design and at the Haggerty Museum of Art (Milwaukee), as well as exhibitions at SITE Santa Fe and the Museum of Fine Arts, Gibson’s latest has him creating pieces with stories to tell, with his influences ranging from “intertribal aesthetics and traditions to popular music, modernist art, gospel and ’80’s fashion.”

“He’s a multi-media artist, so he’s working in lots of different materials and practices,” Jennifer Scanlan, Curatorial and Exhibitions Director for Oklahoma Contemporary said. “He’s a very exciting artist who’s been getting a lot of attention nationally. He’s a really interesting artist and I think that’s the kind of person we want to bring to Oklahoma Contemporary. He works with a lot of materials that we offer to our community, so I thought our community would really be excited.”

Consistently “pushing new boundaries” in his work with textiles, ceramics and beadwork, creating innovative pieces that even Scanlan said she’s “never seen before,” Gibson, being of Choctaw and Cherokee heritage, also finds new and unique ways to work “Native American aesthetics” into his pieces, and then interpreting them “within an European contemporary format,” another facet of his talent that continually leaves Scanlan in awe.

“We have a strong Native American community here—it’s important for us to include what’s going on in the contemporary Native arts because it really connects to what’s going on in Oklahoma’s art scene,” Scanlan said. “Right now, I don’t think there is anybody quite as focused as we are on contemporary art on a national level. Lots of great organizations are doing contemporary art of the Oklahoma artists, which is something that we’ll continue to do, but we are also looking to pull in people that are part of a larger national conversation.”

Throughout the exhibition’s run, Scanlon added Speak to Me will include various additional programs to correlate with the theme, including a Red Earth partnership, an “un-Syposium” with Gibson and fellow artist Will Wilson and a presentation by Nathan Young named New Native Art, based on his personal history with, and research into, the peyote music of the Native American Church.

“I think people who come to see Speak to Me will find the artwork really beautiful,” Scanlan said. “It’s extremely appealing and colorful, but at the same time thought-provoking and even though he made something that is very personal to him, I think people will find themselves immediately connecting with it.”

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Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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