3 images left to right: Beaded wall hanging, Jeffrey Gibson Like a Hammer logo, beaded punching bag

Check Out the Spotify Playlist Created by Artist Jeffrey Gibson

Music That Inspired Works in Like a Hammer

Music has a big influence on Jeffrey Gibson’s creativity, with many of the works in Like a Hammer named after song lyrics or poetry.

Curator John Lukavic noted that as an adolescent living in Korea and coming to terms with his sexuality, Gibson found that dance clubs were one of the few places he felt free to be himself. “His love of music and dance infuses almost all the work here, whether through the inclusion of song lyrics or through an implied sense of motion—punching bags meant to swing back and forth or fringe that sways with a dancer’s steps,” Lukavic said. “For Gibson, as for many of us, music and poetry represent moments in time that contributed to his personal and artistic identities.”

Song lyrics, poetry—these borrowed words give me confidence to articulate something that I did not have words for in my own life experience—they spoke to me and for me.

– Jeffrey Gibson

Like a Hammer includes a playlist Gibson created to accompany the exhibition. So you’ll hear Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke next to a beaded punching bag Gibson titled YOU CAN FEEL IT ALL OVER.

“By beading the song’s chorus—‘You can feel it all over’—on the bag’s surface, Gibson contrasts a positive message with the original function of a punching bag as an outlet for aggression,” Lukavic said.

Listen to more songs that inspired Gibson on our Spotify playlist. See Jeffrey Gibson: Like a Hammer at the Denver Art Museum May 13-August 12, 2018.

Images: Jeffrey Gibson (Mississippi Band Choctaw/ Cherokee), IN NUMBERS TOO BIG TO IGNORE, 2016. Glass beads, artificial sinew, copper jingles, metal studs, and repurposed wool army blanket over wood panel; 61½ x 43 in. Fried Family Collection, courtesy of Marc Straus Gallery, New York. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Gibson Studio and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California. Photograph by Peter Mauney. Jeffrey Gibson (Mississippi Band Choctaw/Cherokee), YOU CAN FEEL IT ALL OVER, 2015. Repurposed punching bag, glass beads, artificial sinew, steel; 41 x 14 x 14 in. From the collection of Teresa and Lorenzo Fertitta. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Gibson Studio and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, California. Photograph by Peter Mauney.

Shannon Robb is a communications associate at the Denver Art Museum. One of her favorite exhibitions that has been on view at the museum is Women of Abstract Expressionism.