Jeffrey Gibson: THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING

Fall 2022–Fall 2023

Jeffrey Gibson: THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING

Aspen Art Museum

Interior images: Jeffrey Gibson, THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING , 2022. Video still. Courtesy the artist, Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York; Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago; Roberts Projects, Los Angeles; and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Photo: Brett Novak

Jeffrey Gibson’s practice mixes Indigenous aesthetic histories with the visual language of Modernism to explore culture, history, and identity. The artist works with garments, sculpture, performance, video, and painting to consider the complex and fluid narratives surrounding selfhood in this country. Gibson uses his surroundings as sources, mixing references from contemporary politics with pop culture and queer iconography to create unexpected connections within his world. The exhibition and related performance Jeffrey Gibson: THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING evolves out of conversations around Indigenous kinship philosophy— the practice of engaging with the land as an extension of one’s own family or oneself, and looking at everything in our surroundings as an equal living entity. A member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and of Cherokee descent, Gibson’s THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING both acknowledges and embraces these perspectives. The artist presents an assemblage of anthropomorphized sculptural heads that incorporate stones, fossils, and other natural materials, representing the passage of geologic and natural time on the Aspen Art Museum rooftop. These are shown in dialogue with a grouping of Gibson’s signature bright flags, each with a different pattern, text, lyric, or slogan. In the galleries, Gibson presents a corresponding video filmed on site in the Aspen landscape that features a group of 15 flag spinners performing and speaking to the land. Performers from the Denver area with a background in colorguard gathered in Aspen in the summer of 2022, creating

choreography paired with song lyrics by Velsum. The songs praise the land we share, acknowledging the sun, the water, the trees, the mountains, the animals, and the moon and stars. THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING invites viewers to immerse themselves in the mountainous landscape of the Roaring Fork Valley, and honor natural elements that nourish and enrich our lives. Performers featured in THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING include Danya Ahram, Leo Balcer, Katie Cox, Donna Daugherty, Natalie Harris, Madi Miller, Serenity Monroe, Nazhoné Morgan, Madeline Morales, Emily Nunemaker, Omar Pena, Elijah Sena, Rosie Small Farley, Megan Templeton, and Ryan Vela.

Jeffrey Gibson’s work fuses his Choctaw-Cherokee heritage and experience of living in Europe, Asia, and the US with references that span club culture, queer theory, fashion, politics, literature, and art history. His multifaceted practice incorporates painting, performance, sculpture, textiles, and video, and is characterized by vibrant color and pattern. His work can be found in the numerous public and private collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Crystal Bridges Museum, and the Wellin Museum, among others. Gibson is the recipient of numerous awards, notably a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2019), Joan Mitchell Foundation, Painters and Sculptors Grant (2015), and Creative Capital Award (2005). He is represented by Sikkema Jenkins & Co in NYC, Kavi Gupta in Chicago, Roberts Projects in Los Angeles, and Stephen Friedman Gallery in London. Gibson was born in 1972, Colorado, and currently lives and works in the Hudson Valley, New York.

LIST OF WORKS

Rooftop

RESPECT INDIGENOUS LAND , 2022 Water-based ink on polyester duck, nylon thread, grommets, aluminum pole, aluminum flagpole ball, acrylic paint 96 × 60 in (243.85 × 152.4 cm) CLEAN AIR TO BREATHE CLEAN AIR TO LIVE , 2022 Water-based ink on polyester duck, nylon thread, grommets, aluminum pole, aluminum flagpole ball, acrylic paint 96 × 60 in (243.85 × 152.4 cm) SPEAK TO YOUR ANCESTORS , 2022 Water-based ink on polyester duck, nylon thread, grommets, aluminum pole, aluminum flagpole ball, acrylic paint 96 × 60 in (243.85 × 152.4 cm) THE TREES ARE WITNESSES , 2022 Water-based ink on polyester duck, nylon thread, grommets, aluminum pole, aluminum flagpole ball, acrylic paint 96 × 60 in (243.85 × 152.4 cm) THE LAND IS SPEAKING ARE YOU LISTENING , 2022 Water-based ink on polyester duck, nylon thread, grommets, aluminum pole, aluminum flagpole ball, acrylic paint 96 × 60 in (243.85 × 152.4 cm) TIME IS GOOD MEDICINE , 2022 Water-based ink on polyester duck, nylon thread, grommets, aluminum pole, aluminum flagpole ball, acrylic paint 96 × 60 in (243.85 × 152.4 cm) THE SUN SHINES LOVE , 2022 Water-based ink on polyester duck, nylon thread, grommets, aluminum pole, aluminum flagpole ball, acrylic paint 96 × 60 in (243.85 × 152.4 cm) HONOR OUR FOUR LEGGED KIN , 2022 Water-based ink on polyester duck, nylon thread, grommets, aluminum pole, aluminum flagpole ball, acrylic paint 96 × 60 in (243.85 × 152.4 cm) MY BODY IS YOUR BODY IS OUR BODY , 2022 Water-based ink on polyester duck, nylon thread, grommets, aluminum pole, aluminum flagpole ball, acrylic paint 96 × 60 in (243.85 × 152.4 cm)

The Dreamer , 2022 Amethyst inset in welded steel and brazed copper 42 × 33 × 32 in (107 × 84 × 81 cm) No Simple Word for Time , 2022 Mixed semi precious stones and geologic specimens inset in welded steel 41 × 29 × 29 1/2 in (104 × 73.5 × 75 cm) Love Unconditionally , 2022 Pink quartz and amethyst inset in steel and brazed copper 43 × 33 × 33 (109.25 × 84 × 84 cm) FIRE TEACH ME TO BURN BABY BURN , 2022 Water-based ink on polyester duck, nylon thread, grommets, aluminum pole, aluminum flagpole ball, acrylic paint 96 × 60 in (243.85 × 152.4 cm) POWER , 2022 Water-based ink on polyester duck, nylon thread, grommets, aluminum pole, aluminum flagpole ball, acrylic paint 96 × 60 in (243.85 × 152.4 cm) A QUESTION OF TIME , 2022 Water-based ink on polyester duck, nylon thread, grommets, aluminum pole, aluminum flagpole ball, acrylic paint 96 × 60 in (243.85 × 152.4 cm) THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING , 2022 Water-based ink on polyester duck, nylon thread, grommets, aluminum pole, aluminum flagpole ball, acrylic paint 60 × 96 in (152.4 × 243.85 cm) WATER FLOW THROUGH ME , 2022 Water-based ink on polyester duck, nylon thread, grommets, aluminum pole, aluminum flagpole ball, acrylic paint 96 × 60 in (243.85 × 152.4 cm) THE ONLY WAY OUT IS THROUGH , 2022 Water-based ink on polyester duck, nylon thread, grommets, aluminum pole, aluminum flagpole ball, acrylic paint 96 × 60 in (243.85 × 152.4 cm)

THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING Helmet 13 , 2022 Found metal cans, pop rivets, glass beads, metal wire 12 1/2 × 13 1/4 × 10 7/8 in (31.75 × 31 × 27.5 cm) THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING Helmet 14 , 2022 Found metal cans, pop rivets, glass beads, metal wire, glass beads 19 × 10 3/4 × 10 3/4 in (48 × 27 × 27 cm) THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING Helmet 15 , 2022 Found metal cans, pop rivets, glass beads, metal wire 19 1/2 × 13 1/2 × 10 1/4 in (49.5 × 34 × 26 cm)

Gallery 6

THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING , 2022 Video, 27:08 min. Cinematography: Brett Novak

THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING Helmet 1 , 2022 Found metal cans, pop rivets, glass beads, metal wire 21 1/8 × 12 1/4 × 12 3/4 in (53.5 × 31 × 32 cm) THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING Helmet 2 , 2022 Found metal cans, pop rivets, glass beads, metal wire 17 1/2 × 10 × 10 1/4 in (44.5 × 25.5 × 26 cm) THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING Helmet 3 , 2022 Found metal cans, pop rivets, glass beads, metal wire 20 1/4 × 11 1/2 × 10 1/4 in (51.4 × 29.2 × 26 cm) THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING Helmet 4 , 2022 Found metal cans, pop rivets, glass beads, metal wire 16 1/2 × 12 3/8 × 13 in (42 × 31.5 × 33 cm) THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING Helmet 5 , 2022 Found metal cans, pop rivets, glass beads, metal wire 19 × 11 1/4 × 10 1/4 in (48.25 × 28.5 × 26 cm) THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING Helmet 6 , 2022 Found metal cans, pop rivets, glass beads, metal wire 16 3/4 × 13 × 12 1/2 in (42.5 × 33 × 34.3 cm) THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING Helmet 7 , 2022 Found metal cans, pop rivets, glass beads, metal wire 19 1/2 × 12 7/8 × 13 1/4 in (49.5 × 32.75 × 33.66 cm) THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING Helmet 8 , 2022 Found metal cans, pop rivets, glass beads, metal wire 21 1/4 × 13 × 11 1/2 in (54 × 33 × 29.2 cm) THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING Helmet 9 , 2022 Found metal cans, pop rivets, glass beads, metal wire 22 1/2 × 12 1/4 × 14 3/4 in (57 × 31 × 37.5 cm) THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING Helmet 10 , 2022 Found metal cans, pop rivets, glass beads, metal wire 8 1/4 × 10 1/4 × 10 1/4 in (21 × 26 × 26 cm) THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING Helmet 11 , 2022 Found metal cans, pop rivets, glass beads, metal wire 9 × 9 × 8 3/4 in (23 × 23 × 22.25 cm) THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING Helmet 12 , 2022 Found metal cans, pop rivets, glass beads, metal wire 12 7/8 × 14 1/4 × 10 1/4 in (32.75 × 36 × 26 cm)

All works courtesy the artist.

THE SUN SONG

THE TREE SONG

THE MOUNTAIN SONG

The Sun will light our way To the birth of infinity. As it loves it will live the earth, A selfless invitation to rebirth. The Sun will light our way! The Sun! The Sun will light our way! The Sun! That the Earth is a reborn star, Awakening the spirit in us all. The Sun will light our way! The Sun! The Sun will light our way! The Sun! The Sun, as the deed truth, Is living in our hearts as eternal proof, The Sun will spread no lies, For everything it looks upon comes to light. And even the Moon as the harbinger of night Is reminder that the sun will never leave our side.

All you beautiful trees standing tall. Symphony of singing leaves Beckoning the seasons’ changing. Tree spirits come to play! Tell us of the story of connectivity! Tree spirits sing from your roots! Share with us the saga of the soil’s brew. Wizened hug of weathered bark Honoring life within. Your relationship of Love Is a ritual of living. Tree spirits come to play! Tell us of the story of connectivity! Tree spirits sing from your roots! Share with us the saga of the soil’s brew.

Mountains! Mountains! Ancient bones of Earth Divine. Mountains! Mountains! Patient dance of primordial time. Teach us of your gradient, Oh, painting of the climate! Teach us of the nutrients From above the clouds to Earth’s crypt. Mountains! Mountains! Oah! Mountains! Mountains! Oah! Mountains! Mountains! Memories of molten Sun. Mountains! Mountains! Beacons laden rivers of Love. Teach us how you’ve incarnated From fluid to hard rock. Teach us how this incarnation’s Wisdom is not yet lost! Mountains! Mountains! Oah! Mountains! Mountains! Oah! Mountains! Mountains! Shamans of the crystal light Mountains! Mountains! Silent bearers of reverent might. Teach us how you honor All the beings who upon you live. Teach us how you remember All the lives who have become your skin.

The Sun will light our way! The Sun! The Sun will light our way! The Sun!

SONGS Written by Velsum

Singers: Danya Ahram, Leo Balcer, Katie Cox, Donna Daugherty, Natalie Harris, Madi Miller, Serenity Monroe, Nazhoné Morgan, Madeline Morales, Emily Nunemaker, Omar Pena, Elijah Sena, Rosie Small Farley, Megan Templeton, and Ryan Vela.

Mountains! Mountains! Oah! Mountains! Mountains! Oah!

THE WATER SONG

THE ANIMAL SONG

MOON AND STARS SONG

The water remembers; Listen to the story. The water remembers; River, take me to the sea.

Wing and tail, feather and fin, We honor you and all of your kin. Relatives of the earth and sea, Remind us how we can truly be free. There are so many ways to live here. There are so many ways to be; On the earth, in the air, under water, Let us share in the bounty! Wing and tail, feather and fin, We honor you and all of your kin. Relatives of the earth and sea, Remind us how we can truly be free. If you listen, the birds will tell you All the mysteries of the sky. And the songs that they sing Have their own set of wings to fly. Wing and tail, feather and fin, We honor you and all of your kin. Relatives of the earth and sea, Remind us how we can truly be free. Look down and the ants will show you How to build a community. When we all do our share Then the whole becomes a harmony. Wing and tail, feather and fin, We honor you and all of your kin. Relatives of the earth and sea, Remind us how we can truly be free. There’s a world inside our waters. There’s a wisdom we will never know. Thank you shell, thank you fin, Thank you all who dwell within the flow. Wing and tail, feather and fin, We honor you and all of your kin. Relatives of the earth and sea, Remind us how we can truly be free. All our cousins who live among us, With your four legs on the earth, You teach us how to balance And to dance as the planet turns. Wing and tail, feather and fin, We honor you and all of your kin. Relatives of the earth and sea, Remind us how we can truly be free.

Moon wax and moon wane; Every seed is born of dark. Starlight will guide our way; Every fire was once a spark.

River flow, river flow, river flow. You are the lifeblood of all creation. River flow, river flow, river flow. Teach us the wisdom of imagination.

Night falls, the sky speaks In a language old as time. Stars, shine your light in me Show me wisdom, show me rhyme.

The water remembers; Listen to the story. The water remembers; River, take me to the sea.

Moon wax and moon wane; Every seed is born of dark. Starlight will guide our way; Every fire was once a spark.

Ocean rise, ocean fall, ocean rise! You are the heart beat! You are the beginning! Ocean rise, ocean fall, ocean rise! Teach us the rhythm of the song that you’re singing!

Feel how the moon moves Out of death into rebirth, Then carves the light away; Round and round the wheel turns.

Moon wax and moon wane; Every seed is born of dark. Starlight will guide our way; Every fire was once a spark. Star, with your fire eyes, Please remind me who I am. Moon, dance across the sky In your silver caravan. Moon wax and moon wane; Every seed is born of dark. Starlight will guide our way; Every fire was once a spark. Moon wax and moon wane; Every seed is born of dark. Starlight will guide our way; Every fire was once a spark.

The water remembers; Listen to the story. The water remembers; River, take me to the sea.

Lake and stream, ice and steam, sweat and tears, You are the past, you are the present and future. Lake and stream, ice and steam, sweat and tears, Teach us the way of the shout and the whisper.

The water remembers; Listen to the story. The water remembers; River, take me to the sea.

Take me to the sea. Take me to the sea.

ABOUT THE ASPEN ART MUSEUM

AAM exhibitions are made possible by the Marx Exhibition Fund. General exhibition support is provided by the Toby Devan Lewis Visiting Artist Fund. Additional support is provided by the AAM National Council. Organizational support and funding provided by Kavi Gupta.

Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in 1979, the Aspen Art Museum is a thriving and globally engaged non- collecting contemporary art museum. Following the 2014 opening of the museum’s facility designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Shigeru Ban, the AAM enjoys increased attendance, renewed civic interaction, and international media attention. In July 2017, the AAM was one of ten institutions to receive the United States’ National Medal for Museum and Library Services for its educational outreach to rural communities in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley and its fostering of learning partnerships with civic and cultural partners within a 100-mile radius of the museum’s Aspen location.

EXHIBITIONS TEAM

Nicola Lees Nancy and Bob Magoon Director

Simone Krug Assistant Curator

Sam Hopple Curatorial Assistant

Kate Marra Exhibitions Director

Eric Angus Assistant Director of Installation

CREW

Aspen Art Museum 637 East Hyman Avenue Aspen, Colorado 81611

Installation Managers Charlie Childress Tim Mutrie

Assistant Registrar Susan Martin

aspenartmuseum.org (970) 925-8050

Special Projects Assistant Courtney Kenny

Installation Crew Rodney Hill Alberto Vila J Carter Peter Butler Noah Williams

Hours Tuesday–Sunday, 10 AM–6 PM Closed Mondays Admission to the AAM is free courtesy of Amy and John Phelan.

Editor Monica Adame Davis

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