Jeffrey Gibson (American, born 1972). WHEN FIRE IS APPLIED TO A STONE IT CRACKS, 2019. Acrylic on canvas, glass beads and artificial sinew inset into custom wood frame. Courtesy of the artist and Kavi Gupta, Chicago. © Jeffrey Gibson. (Photo: John Lusis)

Jeffrey Gibson: When Fire Is Applied to a Stone It Cracks 
February 14, 2020–January 10, 2021
Arts of the Americas Galleries, 5th Floor

This exhibition presents new and existing work by artist Jeffrey Gibson alongside a selection from our extensive collection and archives. Gibson collaborated with historian Christian Crouch to organize this exhibition that examines nineteenth- and early twentieth-century museum collecting practices, and the historical representations of indigenous communities, through a contemporary lens.

Gibson, an artist of Choctaw and Cherokee descent, often incorporates elements of Native American art and craft into his practice. He regards these aesthetic and material histories as modern, innovative, global, and hybrid. The presentation includes collection objects such as moccasins, headdresses, ceramics, and parfleche, and examples of beadwork and appliqué, displayed alongside Gibson’s contemporary works, which take material and formal inspiration from these traditional artistic practices. The exhibition also includes rarely exhibited items from our archives that shed light on the formation of the Brooklyn Museum’s Native American collection in the early twentieth century by curator Stewart Culin. The archival selections by Gibson and Crouch aim to return the focus to the indigenous individuals represented within the archives, recovering those individuals’ previously overlooked narratives and presence.

By presenting his own work alongside key selections from our collection, Gibson offers a different perspective on historical objects within a museum setting—one that is not static or stuck in the past, but ever evolving and modern. He encourages visitors to question long-held categorizations and representations of Native American art and challenges our understanding of tradition, practice, craftsmanship, and art-making.

Jeffrey Gibson: When Fire Is Applied to a Stone It Cracks is organized by Jeffrey Gibson and Christian Crouch, Curatorial Advisor, with Eugenie Tsai, John and Barbara Vogelstein Senior Curator, Contemporary Art, and Erika Umali, Mellon Curatorial Fellow, with support from Nancy Rosoff, Andrew W. Mellon Senior Curator, Arts of the Americas, and Molly Seegers, Museum Archivist, Brooklyn Museum. Major support for this exhibition is provided by Ellen and William Taubman. Generous support is provided by the Brooklyn Museum’s Contemporary Art Committee, the FUNd, and Stephanie and Tim Ingrassia.