This blog has been set up to document the development of the exhibition titled Totems by artist Jeffrey Gibson. The work for this exhibition will be created on-site between March 8 - 13, 2009 at SalaDiaz in San Antonio. Please check back for weekly updates and to leave your comments.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Press Release


517 Stieren, San Antonio, Texas 78210, 210.852.4492

Jeffrey Gibson: Totems

March 13 – April 12, 2009

Reception, Friday, March 13, 7 – 11 PM

Sala Diaz is pleased to present Jeffrey Gibson’s solo exhibition of totemic sculptures titled Totems. In this body of work, Gibson has made three new works that use multiple found and altered objects from local thrift and dollar stores in San Antonio. The colorful hybrid aesthetics of Gibson’s work may appear to be whimsical and verge on kitsch but his concerns are deeply rooted in a critique of consumer culture and the cultural crossroads that cheaply produced plastic products represent.

These objects assume new meanings when contextualized within Gibson’s concerns. His materials are often plastic and produced in non-Western countries where labor is cheap in comparison to the United States. These products are then sold at cheap prices to American consumers driven to shop at discount stores. Often the products are in these stores because they are overstock or past an expiration date. Gibson understands that these objects are not biodegradable and reflect the complex relationships between Western and non-Western economies. To him the cost of his materials are much higher in social, political and environmental terms.

Gibson has chosen the title and format of a totem for these sculptures for multiple reasons. He is member of The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and has grown up with the knowledge of the obvious Native American stereotypes, including the tourist plastic or resin totem pole, among many others. For Gibson, these cliché formats are not representative of Native American culture but do provide strategies for critique of cultural value and representation. By stacking cheap throwaway plastic objects in multiples and on top of each other into totemic structures, Gibson asks the viewer to reflect on the origin of these objects, the cost of these objects, and what they collectively have to say about how we operate as a larger culture.

Jeffrey Gibson lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. His paintings and sculptures have been included in exhibitions at The National Museum of the American Indian and The Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum in 2007, at The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in 2006, Samson Projects in Boston, and Dust Gallery in Las Vegas. He is a 2005 recipient of a visual arts grant from The Creative Capital Foundation and has been selected as an Eiteljorg Museum Fellow for 2008-09. Gibson’s artwork has been reviewed in various publications, including The New York Times, ArtNews, The Boston Globe and NY Arts Magazine. His work is in numerous public and private collections including the Smithsonian Institution, The Denver Art Museum, and The Eiteljorg Museum. He will concurrently exhibit a new large-scale installation at Diverseworks in Houston as part of Solution, organized by Janet Phelps, through April 18, 2009.

More or Jeffrey Gibson’s work can be seen at

Sala Diaz is a 501 (C)(3) non-profit space supporting the San Antonio community with exhibitions of local, national and international artists and is located at 517 Stieren, near the intersection of South Alamo and South Saint Mary’s Street in the heart of the Restaurant Supply District. Open weekly, Thursday - Saturday from 2 - 6 PM and every First Friday at 9 PM. Sala Diaz is sponsored by Fluent Collaborative, Liberty Bar, The National Endowment For The Arts and numerous private individuals.

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