Gibson will be the first Indigenous artist to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale since 1932
US Pavilion, presented by Portland Art Museum and SITE Santa Fe
Co-Commissioned by Kathleen Ash-Milby (Navajo), Louis Grachos, and Abigail Winograd
Portland, OR and Santa Fe, NM – July 27, 2023 – Portland Art Museum in Oregon and SITE Santa Fe in New Mexico, in cooperation with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, announced today that Jeffrey Gibson (Mississippi Choctaw/Cherokee) will represent the United States at La Biennale di Venezia, the 60th International Art Exhibition. Celebrated for an artistic practice that combines American, Indigenous, and Queer histories with influences from music and pop culture, Gibson creates a dynamic visual language that reflects the inherent diversity and hybridity of American culture. Using abundant color, complex pattern, and text, he invites deep reflection on identity, inspires empathy, and advocates for a widening of access to democracy and freedom for all. On view from April 20 through November 24, 2024, the biennale provides international audiences with the first major opportunity to experience Gibson’s work outside of the United States.
The 2024 US Pavilion is co-commissioned by Kathleen Ash-Milby (Navajo), curator of Native American art at the Portland Art Museum, Louis Grachos, Phillips Executive Director of SITE Santa Fe, and Abigail Winograd, independent curator, and is co-curated by Ash-Milby and Winograd.
A citizen of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and of Cherokee descent, Gibson will be the first Indigenous artist to represent the United States in a solo exhibition in the 129-year history of the Biennale. This exhibition is also the first to be co-commissioned and co-curated by a Native American curator. The first and only previous time Indigenous artists exhibited in the US pavilion at the Venice Biennale was in 1932, when Amelia Elizabeth White, Dolly Sloan, and John Sloan co-curated a large group exhibition.  Indigenous people of the United States have curated and exhibited at numerous collateral events during the biennale.
“Throughout his career, Jeffrey has challenged us to look at the world differently through his innovative and vibrant work,” said Ash-Milby. “His inclusive and collaborative approach is a powerful commentary on the influence and persistence of Native American cultures within the United States and globally, making him the ideal representative for the United States at this moment.”
“Having recently collaborated with Jeffrey to present a solo exhibition in Santa Fe, we are honored to continue championing his dynamic, insightful, and timely work—now on an international stage,” said Grachos. “This collaboration builds upon SITE Santa Fe’s long history as a platform for artistic innovation, providing artists with the support and resources they need to realize bold and ambitious visions.”
“I have long believed in the ability of Jeffrey’s work to be a force for positive change and to create the possibility of a radically inclusive future,” said Winograd. “It is my hope that as a global audience experiences his work through the Biennale, they will also find it to be a source of joy and healing, something sorely needed in a world driven by conflict and crisis. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with Jeffrey and this team to share his work more broadly.”
“Jeffrey’s work embodies the aspirations of the Portland Art Museum’s program to reveal the beauty and complexities of the world, and creates a deeper understanding of our shared humanity,” said Brian Ferriso, Director of the Portland Art Museum. “We are incredibly honored to help bring his vision to an international audience through this presentation at the Venice Biennale.”
For the US Pavilion, Gibson will activate the interior and exterior of the US Pavilion with a series of new and recent works that invite reflection on individual and collective identities including sculpture, paintings, multimedia works, and a site-specific installation activating the pavilion’s courtyard. In conjunction with the presentation at the US Pavilion and in partnerships with the Institute of American Indian Arts (Santa Fe, NM) and Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY), Portland, and SITE will also develop year-long educational programming. They will focus on connecting Indigenous, Native American, and international undergraduate humanities students and graduate art students, including bringing students from the Institute of American Indian Arts to Venice for a summer arts program and organizing a convening for students, scholars, and the public in fall 2024.
The 2024 US Pavilion: Jeffrey Gibson is made possible by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State.
About the Artist
Jeffrey Gibson (b. 1972, Colorado Springs, CO) is a citizen of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and of Cherokee descent who currently lives and works near Hudson, New York. Gibson’s approach to art-making is defined by its hybrid and cosmopolitan nature, largely informed by his international upbringing in the United States, Korea, and Germany. During his itinerant childhood as the son of a retired civil employee of the US Army, he found solace and friendship in the world of music, at various times exploring the sounds and social traditions of the punk and rave music of his generation, and in the powwow traditions of his intertribal Native heritage. Resisting static, preconceived notions of what people believe Native American art looks like, he combines Native art practices with the visual languages of contemporary society to explore the confluence of personal identity, culture, history, and international social narratives.
Gibson has been recognized with numerous awards, including a 2019 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and he is currently an artist-in-residence at Bard College. Gibson received a bachelor of fine arts in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1995 and his master of arts in painting from the Royal College of Art, London, in 1998.
1. Jessica L. Horton, “A Cloudburst in Venice: Fred Kabotie and the U.S. Pavilion of 1932,” American Art 29, no. 1 (2015), 56, 70, 72; Dorothy Dunn, American Indian Painting of the Southwest and Plains Areas (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1968), 240.