- 251 × 75 × 13 in. (637.5 × 190.5 × 33.0 cm)
- © 2019, Jeffrey Gibson
- Credit Line
- Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment
- Mediums Description
- polyester satin, printed chiffon, polyester organza, canvas, tin jingles, nylon fringe, assorted glass, plastic, and stone beads, acrylic mirrors, sheet acrylic, nylon thread, artificial sinew, tipi poles
- Dress — ceremonial
- Object Number
With colorful, oversized tunics Jeffrey Gibson asks, "Can a garment be a statement? Can a garment be a sculpture? Can a garment be political?"
The works are adorned with sequins, jingles, protest images, and song lyrics, as well as intricate beadwork characteristic of Choctaw tribal traditions and a rainbow color scheme common to contemporary powwow regalia.? For Gibson, each element represents a building block of identity--a public marker of how others see us and how we come to know ourselves.
Gibson is a citizen of the Mississippi band of Choctaw Indians and of Cherokee descent. ?But apart from attending community gatherings and powwows, he wasn't raised within a Native community.? As such, he would ask himself, "'Am I a participant?' 'Am I an observer?' 'Where do I stand in there?'" ?He describes feeling like an outsider, as he and his family traveled around the world with his civil engineer father, moving from Colorado to Germany to New Jersey, Korea, and Maryland.? He has said that "this kind of movement through different forms of identity has made me grow and see the world in a very broad way."
Gibson's garments were inspired by the shirts worn by Lakota people as part of the Ghost Dance spiritual movement in the nineteenth century.? For those who practiced it, the dance was intended to summon ancestral spirits, return to traditional ways of life, and repel colonizers from Native land.? Gibson was drawn to the notion of garments that could transform and bestow power on the wearer.? As a young gay man, this image helped him connect to communities and ideas greater than himself, and to construct a larger-than-life vision of identity based on the histories and experiences that shaped him.