March 26 – May 21, 2011
Woodward Gallery welcomes The Estate of Sybil Gibson and is proud to premiere original paintings by the artist from the family’s private collection. This rare body of work spanning three decades will be offered to the public for the first time.
Sybil Gibson (February 18, 1908 – January 2, 1995), was born Sybil Aaron in Dora, Alabama to a wealthy coal mine operator and farm owner. She was educated at Jacksonville State Teachers College and worked as an educator. Despite her prosperous upbringing, Sybil Gibson spent much of her adult life living in poverty. She moved around – often disappearing from family.
The eccentric Gibson picked up a brush at age 55, inspired by her own spontaneous gift wrap design. This epiphany to paint would consume her for the rest of her life. Her subjects were people, faces, and flowers, painted on flattened paper bags, corrugated cardboard, or newspaper, using tempera, pastels, and acrylics. The resulting images are ethereal and quietly beautiful.
The prolific Sybil Gibson had received recognition for her art during her life, although she refused to paint on better paper. In her autobiography dated June 10, 1984 Gibson said, “…Good art paper turns me off, while something out of the trash turns me on!”
Frustrated with conventional art lessons, she was convinced that real art comes from within. Held for decades within her family’s collection, this personal body of work is distinctly Gibson with the fluidity of her brushwork, at once controlled, graceful, and sparse. She offers a complete lyrical freedom, a childlike dreamy quality in her painting.
Sybil Gibson’s art is featured in permanent collections such as: The Museum of Art, Alabama; The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Alabama; The Miami Museum of Modern Art, Florida; The New Orleans Museum of Art in Louisiana; The Museum of American Folk Art, New York; The Brooklyn Museum, New York, and The New York State Historical Society, New York.
Gibson’s paintings have been compared to celebrated Artists Milton Avery and Odilon Redon, and have been in more than fifty solo exhibitions worldwide. The unique, idiosyncratic spirit of Sybil Gibson lives within her pictures. Her work commands a closer look for its compelling appeal.