Neither Devils Nor Divines
Mark Thomas Gibson and Rebecca Morgan are two American artists who employ the language of comics and graphic novels to explore the representation of otherness in the United States. Together we pause to look beyond polarizing narratives, into forgotten histories, and towards a new perspective. To that end, we borrow the title of this exhibition from a line in a poem that flew to space on the Orion spacecraft, “A Brave And Startling Truth,” by Maya Angelou. In a respite from his recent furious black and white drawings, Gibson processes past events after a visit to his home state of Florida. Five looming color wash self-portraits depict a black man’s legs in various states of wipeout—evoking surrender, but only for a moment. In “Smooth Sailing,” a party boat named fuckd twinkles on as water spurts from the vessel, legs dangle overboard, and a torn white flag waves in the moonlight. As an artist who wields the comic as a tool for social justice, Gibson takes space to regroup and ponder uncharted routes toward utopia. Born in central Pennsylvania, Morgan usurps power by subverting stereotypes associated with historically marginalized ethnic whites. Simultaneously charming and horrifying, her characters exist in a state of blissful idleness—ignoring social convention, they seek freedom in the thicket. The small candy colored painting “Granny Huffer,” is beautifully rendered but quickly cuts deep, illuminating a harsh reality. In her paintings, drawings, and ceramics, Morgan explores the reverence and also the repulsion that come with the territory of home.