Jeffrey Gibson (b. 1972, Colorado Springs, Colorado) layers Native American beadwork, trading post blankets, and fancy fringes in his paintings and sculp-tures, many of which spell out the lyrics sung by Grace Jones, Prince, the Beatles, and others, as well as phrases from writers including Nelson Algren, Raymond Carver, and E. E. Cummings. Gibson’s compositions often riff off prints by Sister Corita Kent, paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat, and sculptures by Jimmie Durham, not to mention whole movements, like Op, Pattern and Decoration, and image-and-text Conceptualism. In a sense, the Choctaw-Cherokee artist’s works are born of a history that never happened. They are the offspring of works that might have existed if Native arts and crafts (often displayed in cultural centers on reservations) and European-derived modernism (often displayed in modern art museums) had not been segregated, but had been engaged in an animated conversation throughout the twentieth century. Descending from a fantasized, fictitious past, Gibson’s works stand out in a world where politicians seem perfectly happy to lie about the present and act as if the past were nothing but a rosy fantasy.

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