I was invited to see the opening of Jeffrey Gibson’s “Like A Hammer” exhibition at Seattle Art Museum the other day and it’s the type of honest, colorful, modern and inclusive art that speaks to your heart and I really want my kids to see it.
We love visiting art museums together and we usually have a membership to the Seattle Art Museum so we can pop in for even a short time when we’re in the area. Kids under 12 are free anyways at the museum and the Patron membership has been so helpful when we travel because there are many reciprocal museums that are included on this membership. We actually visited the Denver Art Museum ages ago because of our Seattle Art Museum Patron Membership and that museum is where the Jeffrey Gibson Like a Hammer installation first toured in May of last year. The Denver Art Museum had some really kid-friendly areas when we visited and I love when art museums make art accessible to even their youngest patrons.
I think my guys and I will have a lot of conversations because of Jeffrey Gibson’s art because he speaks to the multifaceted identities we all have. He pays tribute to his Native American heritage in the materials he uses and the way he uses the materials speaks volumes on how we look at each other, how we think of our differences and similarities, how we think of sexuality and gender roles, and how we think of ourselves. He incorporates historical references and music and quotes and I came out of the exhibition wanting to know more about his inspirations and the Seattle Art Museum has curated an excellent reading list that can help.
Jeffrey Gibson was at the press release and this is my favorite part of being invited to events at the Seattle Art Museum. I don’t have an art history background so being able to learn about artists and curators and why they created their exhibitions and how they feel about what they made is so important to me. I really enjoyed listening to Jeffrey Gibson because he seems thoughtful and curious and he kept encouraging us to freely ask questions about his work. At one point he talked about how he started to wonder about things that are collected, how they are shown and how different things mean different things to audiences and that made me think about all the museums we’ve ever been to and how they use their collections. It also made me reflect on how as human beings we also walk around as a collection of the things we only want to display from all the things that make up who we are.
I loved how Jeffrey Gibson talked about his time learning about boxing and explained how that evolved into making the Everlast bags that are featured in this exhibition. When people asked where he bought his materials he mentioned that he bought some of the Everlast bags on Craigslist. So if you’ve ever sold an Everlast bag on Craigslist because it might not have brought you joy, you may have met Jeffrey Gibson and your bag may be hanging in a museum. I am still totally tickled by the thought that somewhere out there someone is a part of this really cool story and might not even know about it yet.
Many people have statements these days about so many of the tough and awful things going on in the world and so many of these statements make me filled with despair or sadness and try to make my head think in only one direction. This art exhibit was inspiring because it said so many important things in so many vibrant colors but simply seemed to ask me only to open my eyes and my heart and think a little more. It also filled me with hope that my kids will be growing up in an okay place because we can have art like this, because we can have conversations about collections like this and because my city has created a beautiful inclusive museum where this kind of art can exist.