She Never Dances Alone

Jeffrey Gibson

The Armory Show, The Brooklyn Museum, Roberts Projects, Kavi Gupta

In celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day, we’ve shared a special release of She Never Dances Alone by Jeffrey Gibson, which the artist describes as “an ancestral call for strength and healing for all Indigenous people,” and in particular, “a recognition of the power of Indigenous women.” You can now view this mesmerizing Midnight Moment in full here until November 12.

Special Viewing:
Saturday, March 7, 11:30pm to Midnight
Duffy Square (46th Street and Broadway)

Join Jeffrey Gibson, Times Square Arts, the Brooklyn Museum, The Armory Show, Roberts Projects and Kavi Gupta for free, public performances by Sarah Ortegon and Joan Henry leading into the Midnight Moment. Presented by Times Square Arts, The Armory Show, Kavi Gupta, and Roberts Projects.

An artist of Choctaw and Cherokee descent, Jeffrey Gibson combines elements of traditional Native American craft with the visual languages of modernism to draw powerful personal, cultural, and historical connections between the two. Gibson’s work across painting, sculpture, and installation is invariably vibrant and visually rich. He is known for using traditional Indigenous materials, including animal hides, glass beads, and tipi poles, alongside more contemporary mediums such as video, paint and ceramics to create wearable sculptural garments, stand-alone sculptures, mixed media paintings and immersive installations.

A multi-channel video created specifically for the screens of Times Square, She Never Dances Alone (2019) is Gibson’s celebration of the Indigenous matriarchy, centering on the jingle dress dance, a powwow dance that originated with the Ojibewea tribe and is traditionally performed by women to call upon ancestors for strength, healing, and protection. As Sarah Ortegon, an acclaimed jingle dress dancer and Miss Native American USA 2013–14, performs in handmade dresses adorned with jingles or rows of ziibaaska’iganan (metal cones), the swaying colors, textures, and patterns pop against a black background and fold into kaleidoscopic abstractions. Ortegon’s image multiplies within each screen and across the plazas, creating the impression that many women have come together to dance over Times Square. The video ends with a close-up of Ortegon’s face after she has stopped dancing, calming her breath as she stares intently ahead — and at the people watching from below.

“I wanted to take this opportunity to draw attention to the importance and strength of Indigenous women. Many tribal communities were historically matriarchal and the acculturation towards patriarchal systems has caused great damage to our communities. We are currently experiencing a crisis with an overwhelming number of cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women, many of which are not investigated beyond the initial reporting. Times Square offers a huge global audience to witness this video and experience the dancing of Sarah Ortegon. It is not just about her as an individual but also the many women she represents. Having this video played in Times Square is an ancestral call for strength and healing for all Indigenous people, and a recognition of the power of Indigenous women.”

—Jeffrey Gibson

She Never Dances Alone is presented in partnership with Brooklyn Museum on the occasion of Gibson’s major solo exhibition When Fire Is Applied to a Stone It Cracks, February 14, 2020 – January 10, 2021, for which he selected objects from the Museum’s collection and archives to display alongside examples of his recent work, including garments, beaded punching bags, paintings on hide and canvas, and ceramic vessels.

Gibson will be in discussion with Eugenie Tsai as part of Armory Live at The Armory Show on March 6, 12:30pm, and his work will be on view within the fair at the booths of Roberts Projects and Kavi Gupta.

The March 7th performance and viewing is presented by Times Square Arts, The Armory Show, Roberts Projects and Kavi Gupta.

Additional credits:
Sancia Nash — Editor
William Singer — Color

Jeffrey Gibson (b. 1972, Colorado Springs, CO) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Hudson, NY. His artworks make reference to various aesthetic and material histories rooted in Indigenous cultures of the Americas, and in modern and contemporary subcultures. Gibson's previous exhibitions include, Jeffrey Gibson, LIKE A HAMMER, organized by the Denver Art Museum, and This Is The Day, organized by The Wellin Museum. Other notable solo exhibitions include: The Anthropophagic Effect (2019) The New Museum, New York; Look How Far We've Come! (2017), Haggerty Museum of Art, Milwaukee; Jeffrey Gibson: Speak to Me, (2017), Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center, Oklahoma City; and A Kind of Confession (2016), Savannah College of Art and Design Museum, Savannah. Select group exhibitions include: The 2019 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum, NYC,   Aftereffect (2019), Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver; Suffering from Realness (2019),Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, MA; and Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now (2018), Crystal Bridges, Bentonville, AR. Gibson has upcoming solo exhibitions at MassMoCA, The Brooklyn Museum and The Wattis Institute. Gibson is also a member of the faculty at Bard College.

Sarah Ortegon (b. 1986, Denver, Colorado) is enrolled Eastern Shoshone and is also Northern Arapaho. In 2013 Ortegon was crowned Miss Native American, USA after competing in her first pageant. Soon after, she started touring with the Native Pride Dancers, traveling and performing the jingle dress dance in the US and in Moldova, Europe, Guatemala, and Australia. In 2013 Ortegon graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver with a Bachelors in Fine Art. The Denver Art Museum recently added her piece, “Home is Where the Heart Is” to their collection. Ortegon is also an actress, and was featured in the play "Black Elk Speaks" in 2016. From there, she was cast in a musical “Sitting Bull’s Last Waltz," which premiered in Hollywood, California for the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June-July of 2016. Ortegon was cast as an extra and stunt woman in the BBC NBC miniseries “Jamestown," which filmed in Budapest in August 2016, 2017 and 2018. The miniseries can now be streamed on PBS. Ortegon is featured in the PBS Film, “The Art of Home: A Wind River Story,” which aired nationally in November 2019 on PBS. Ortegon is an avid outdoors person. She works with National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) leading expeditions through the wilderness, and is an ambassador for the non-profit, Native Womens Wilderness. Ortegon gives all credit to God the Creator, her parents, family and to the Native community that supports her.

Composer/Performer/Artist/Educator & Water Protector Joan Henry (b.1956) led 50 drummers through Okla-Choctaw/Tsalagi artist Jeffrey Gibson’s New Museum exhibition performance in 2019; she is honored to address the Powers and sing for the spirits at this event. The driving force in Heather Henson & Ty Defoe’s Ajijaak On Turtle Island at New Victory Theatre, her life embraces stage, film, television and 30+ recordings in Native traditional, contemporary, jazz, classical music and storytelling. Previous adventures Off-Broadway include: Water Is Life (Defoe/Sinutoke for NYMF), Primer For A Failed Superpower (Chakin & The TEAM), MacBeth & The Winter’s Tale (Sayet/Defoe for Amerinda’s Indigenous Shakespeare Ensemble.) Concert venues: Clearwater Festival, NYC’s Indigenous Peoples Day, New York Musical Festival. Distant past: West Side Story 30th Anniversary Company, Camelot National Tour with Richard Harris. Lead singer & percussionist for jazz sextet SPIRITED. Early life was filled with her grandmothers’ & elders’ songs and healing plant-knowledge which today guide her work with youth, women, veterans & indigenous communities from the Northwest Coast to Tennessee; as Founding Director of the Arts for Healing initiative in Pediatrics at Vassar Brothers Medical Center and adjunct instructor for Vassar College’s Native American Studies program, Ms Henry has been an educator for over 45 years and a performer even longer.

The Brooklyn Museum contains one of the nation's most comprehensive and wide-ranging collections enhanced by a distinguished record of exhibitions, scholarship, and service to the public. The Museum's vast holdings span 5,000 years of human creativity from cultures in every corner of the globe. Collection highlights include the ancient Egyptian holdings, renowned for objects of the highest world-class quality, and the arts of the Americas collection, which is unrivaled in its diverse range from Native American art and artifacts and Spanish colonial painting, to 19th- and early 20th-century American painting, sculpture, and decorative objects. The Museum is also home to the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, which is dedicated to the study and exhibition of feminist art and is the only curatorial center of its kind. The Brooklyn Museum is both a leading cultural institution and a community museum dedicated to serving a wide-ranging audience. Located in the heart of Brooklyn, the Museum welcomes and celebrates the diversity of its home borough and city.

The Armory Show is New York City’s premier art fair and a leading cultural destination for discovering and collecting the world’s most important 20th- and 21st-century art. The Armory Show features presentations by leading international galleries, innovative artist commissions, and dynamic public programs. Since its founding in 1994, The Armory Show has served as a nexus for the international art world, inspiring dialogue, discovery, and patronage in the visual arts. Jeffrey Gibson has shown work at The Armory Show previously, including a large installation in the Platform section in 2018.

Roberts Projects represents mid-career and established artists of international recognition as well as emerging artists. The gallery’s focus is to present a diverse and ambitious program emphasizing museum-quality, installation-based exhibitions. Roberts Projects showcases as well as commissions projects with artists who work using a variety of mediums including but not limited to drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, film and performance. By exhibiting artists across multiple generations and continents, the gallery establishes a discursive critical voice in addressing diverse perspectives of art within a broader context of contemporary artistic practices. In keeping with its priority of championing the contributions of established artists and the potential of young artists alike, the gallery periodically mounts expansive survey shows of historical note.

Roberts Projects has represented Jeffrey Gibson since early 2017. Gibson's first solo show at the gallery, entitled “IN SUCH TIMES,” debuted shortly after. Since then, Roberts Projects has worked with Gibson on numerous gallery and museum exhibitions - the latter of which have traveled extensively across various institutions - domestic and international art fairs, catalogues, and both public and private commissions. Jeffrey Gibson’s next exhibition with Roberts Projects is scheduled for May 2020.

Kavi Gupta is a leading contemporary art gallery based in Chicago. Its two permanent gallery locations host more than a dozen museum quality exhibitions each year; its publishing imprint, Kavi Gupta | Editions, produces unique, high quality artist books and catalogues; and the gallery participates in many of the most influential global art fairs each year, including Art Basel Hong Kong, Frieze New York, Frieze London, the New York Armory Fair, Chicago Expo, and Art Basel Miami Beach.

Passion, curiosity, and joie de vivre drive daily operations at Kavi Gupta, and an earnest love for art history permeates the culture of the entire team. One key differentiator that sets Kavi Gupta’s programming apart is our interest in discovering under-represented and underappreciated artists who are deserving of global attention. Sometimes an artist is under exposed to the art world because their work is non-commercial, conceptual, or based on social practice concepts. Other times it is because they originate from a location too far from a major art center—whether that is Southeast Asia, South America, Africa, or the American Midwest. Still other times, an artist is overlooked because of biases related to gender, race, or some other aspect of personal identity. Kavi Gupta is intrinsically dedicated to finding such artists, facilitating their work, and exposing their efforts to the international art world.