Jeffrey Gibson: To Name An Other

Jeffrey Gibson

American and Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Cherokee descent, born 1972

To Name An Other, 2019

Installation with 50 screen-printed elk hide drums, 50 garments, and digital video documentation

From the Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation, L2022.55

Community, empowerment, and visibility are at the heart of the ongoing performance work To Name An Other, by multimedia artist Jeffrey Gibson (b. 1972), who is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and of Cherokee descent. The fifty pairs of matching tunics and drums in this large-scale installation are emblazoned with phrases that challenge the limiting ways we identify and interface with expectations surrounding race and gender. A video of past performances is also included in the gallery.

From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation. Organized by the Portland Art Museum and curated by Kathleen Ash-Milby, Curator of Native American Art.

Fifty brightly colored screen printed tunics hang in five rows from silver pipes near the ceiling.

Back row left to right: Her bravery inspires (blue tunic, red rectangle pattern, pink letters), His humor heals (red tunic, yellow letters that appear to be melting), He makes his story (red tunic, gray letters), They fight for clean water (blue, orange, burgundy repeating geometric patterns with gray letters), Their vote counts (black tunic with pink radiating circles with red letters), unreadable words (lime green and bright red square pattern).

Second from back: His words cast spells (black tunic with green, yellow, blue, orange letters that look like the letters are melting), Their spirits are present (purple tunic with bright radiating red dots and yellow letters), His silence speaks loudly (yellow tunic with teal circles behind pink letters), She re writes his story (orange tunic with purple letters), They teach love (geometric pattern with yellow green, red, and purple lines with purple letters in front of white rectangles).

Third from back: Her dependence heals (yellow tunic with orange letters and faint orange stripes), She earns less than he does (orange tunic with purple letters), Paints are his medicine (purple tunic with yellow letters), They define their own body (black and silver tunic with bold orange letters), He finds his comfort – the rest of the words are not readable (blue tunic with orange letters), The people – the rest of the words are not readable (tunic with yellow, orange, and pink squares).

Fourth from back: Their dark skin brings light (bright orange and yellow tunic with purple letters), She makes music as magick (bright red tunic with bold white letters), He drums in their face (orange tunic with purple letters over red circles), They make her story (yellow tunic with red letters), unreadable dark purple letters on purple and red tunic.

Fifth from back: Her songs give us life (purple tunic with blue vertical thick stripes and bright pink letters), His love is deep (bright orange tunic with dark blue letters), bright yellow tunic with very blurry bright pink letters that are not readable, He does not – the rest of the letters are not readable (rose tunic with pink vertical stripes and yellow letters), She speaks up to take them down (bright red tunic with dark purple letters), She makes space for us (yellow tunic with red horizontal rectangles and red letters).

Sixth from back: His prayers heal us (orange tunic with horizontal pink stripes and yellow letters), They save their children (purple tunic with horizontal red stripes and purple letters), She works to feed them (black and red checkered tunic with bold yellow letters), They want to be free (yellow tunic with red vertical rectangles with bold yellow letters over the rectangles), She growls like a lion (red tunic with yellow radiating circles with purple letters over the circles).

Seventh from back: She protects the land (yellow tunic with red letters), They identify as she (yellow and orange tunic with bold dark purple letters), She moves their body (orange and red tunic with light purple letters), He imagines a future (pink tunic with red letters in white vertical rectangles outlined with light purple), She raises the dead (black and red tunic with yellow letters), She walks lightly (yellow tunic with red radiating circles and bright purple letters that start small and get larger like Star Wards credits).

Eighth from Back: She tears down walls (pink letters on small black and white checkerboard pattern), They play endlessly (yellow tunic with orange rectangles and pink letters), Their children stand tall (bright blue tunic with multicolored letters repeated over each other as if blurred from being in motion), She knows other worlds (dark orange tunic with dark blue circles with gray letters over them), They speak their – the rest of the words are not readable (yellow tunic with orange vertical rectangles with yellow letters on them).

Front row: They make medicine (vertical orange and yellow rectangles, yellow circles on the bottom right corner of the orange rectangles, and dark orange letters written diagonally), She plays with fire (tunic composed of small orange and yellow rectangles in a line with yellow letters), They choose their family (pink and red rectangles with bold black letters), She’s quick to see (yellow tunic with pink vertical lines and red letters), They fight for their land (green tunic with orange bold letters), tunic with words that are backwards and upside down and not readable (yellow top with purple horizontal line and orange and purple sleeves).


Fifty brightly colored screen printed round elk hide drumheads hang on the wall in two corners of the gallery. On the left side of the room eleven round drumheads hang on the left. Most with two colors that fade into each other in the middle. Each drum has a statement in all caps.

From top left to bottom right: She walks lightly, She tears down walls, his words cast spells, She knows other worlds, He drums in their face, Their spirits are present, He makes his story, She earns less than she does, She works to feed them, He finds comfort in his arms, Their children stand tall.

On the right wall, fourteen additional drums hang. From top left to bottom right: She makes space for us, Her in dependence heals, They identify as she, His prints are his medicine, They fight for clean water, She growls like a lion, They play endlessly, Her songs give us life, They save their children, She protects the land, He images a future, She makes music as magick, She moves their body, Their dark skin brings light.

On the opposite side of the room fourteen drums hang near the corner.

From top left to bottom right: She re writes his story, They speak their language, She wakes others, They make her story, Powerful because they’re different, She makes music as magick, They choose their family, They make medicine, His love is deep, Their votes count, His prayers heal us, They teach love, He speaks to ancestors, She’s quick to see.

On the right wall from top left to bottom right: They protect the land, She plays with fire, They fight for the land, She raises the dead, He does not give up, She speaks up to take them down, They want to be free, His silence speaks loudly, Her food is medicine, They definite their own body, His humor heals.