Cherokee/Choctaw, b. 1972
BRIGHTER DAYS, 2019
Acrylic on canvas, glass beads, artificial sinew
Collection of the artist
In Jeffrey Gibson’s 2019 work BRIGHTER DAYS, the artist uses a graphic alphabet to share the message, “Lift me up, oh won’t you pick me up, lift me up, oh won’t you pick me up, brighter days.” These lyrics are borrowed from the 1993 Chicago house music song “Brighter Days” by Cajmere featuring Dajae (Underground Goodies Mix). This visual alphabet resembles beadwork and quilting patterns, including the star patterns found in Cherokee quilt work. The custom frame that holds the painting features beadwork mimicking the bright colors and crisp lines of the painting itself. Gibson often utilizes lyrics from pop music, disco and house music in his work, an act of unsanctioned appropriation of popular culture, pushing back against popular culture’s unsanctioned appropriations and representations of Indigenous cultures. Gibson blends LGBTQ+ histories, Indigenous histories, popular culture and subculture to create a pastiche of visual language that reflects his reality as an artist.
Jeffrey Gibson is a multidisciplinary artist working in painting, printmaking, sculpture, beadwork, installation, and performance. Gibson earned his M.A. in painting at the Royal College of Art, London, and a BFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Gibson’s artwork engages with his Indigenous heritage, queer histories, popular culture, and his own life experience in his practice. His work is in many prominent collections including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Denver Art Museum, and the National Gallery of Canada. His work has been exhibited at the New Museum, the Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College, the Brooklyn Museum, and the SITE Santa Fe biennial. His awards include the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors grant and the MacArthur Fellowship.