No machinery can or will rescue
any of us from the law of being.
For centuries we have pretended that
by echoing those grey wings on the wind
grinding the black earth into our palms, and
dipping blue confections to our pink tongues,
we are truly living.
But, by proclaiming that
there can only be one of anything,
we are gradually tearing at the
seams of a sheath, well worn.
It would do us well to remember that
while the fringes may be tattered and torn
the main core is always serviceable.
Because while all our ancestors loom large
in the shadows of grief
Brown, Yellow, Red…
We must remember that
someone great was and is ever-present—
In the untouched landscape
In the interior web of oneness
In the infinite expanse beyond that
that great white hide.
Wearing a black coat, head bare,
his face set against armed strongmen,
he stands close to his brothers
and sisters, his gaze harbors a wilderness,
a deep resolve to share in the scattering
light of this dark dark world.
His skull, fractured.
His life is light.
From a psalm dancing hills emerge
the sea splits, and in the path between
the walls of water freedom sings.
His soul grows “deep like the rivers.”
There is no darkness in it.
She wore aprons similar to this
in colors and shape
they were called Mother Hubbard
did any of them last through the six
children she didn’t truly want
before birth control or abortion
the coverings practical, related
to her own but not
while we stripped her to her hide
a great woman long gone
Feel free to navigate through the tabs to hear the recordings/poems of Great White Hide, No Darkness - for John Lewis, and Mother Hubbard. All of these recordings/poems are based on Jeffrey Gibson’s painting, Someone Great is Gone, 2013.
American, born 1972
Someone Great is Gone, 2013
Elk hide, acrylic, paint, graphite, colored pencil
73 x 66 inches
Jeffrey Gibson’s multimedia practice synthesizes the cultural and artistic traditions of his Cherokee and Choctaw heritage with the visual languages of Modernism and themes from contemporary popular and queer culture. His work is a vibrant call for queer and Indigenous empowerment, envisioning a celebration of strength and joy within these communities.
Jeffrey Gibson grew up in major urban centers in the United States, Germany, Korea, and England. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1995 and Master of Arts in painting at the Royal College of Art, London, in 1998. He is a citizen of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and is half Cherokee. He is currently an artist-in-residence at Bard College and lives and works near Hudson, New York.
Gibson’s artworks are in the permanent collections of many major art museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Smithsonian, the National Gallery of Canada, the Nasher, the Nerman, Crystal Bridges, and the Denver Art Museum. Recent exhibitions include SCAD Museum of Art (Savannah and Atlanta), National Academy Museum in New York, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, Cornell Museum of Fine Art, Denver Art Museum and Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art. He has participated in Greater New York, Prospect New Orleans, the Everson Biennale, and Site Santa Fe. Gibson is a member of the faculty at Bard College and a past TED Foundation Fellow and Joan Mitchell Grant recipient. He was included in the 2019 Whitney Biennial. In 2019 he received a MacArthur Foundation genius award.