They Come From Fire

Jeffrey Gibson

They Come From Fire is a series of twelve kilnformed and laminated glass artwork panels by artist Jeffrey Gibson (Sikkema Jenkins & Co.). The glass artworks are part of Gibson’s immersive exhibition of the same name installed inside the two-story Schnitzer Sculpture Court at the Portland Art Museum (Portland, Oregon). The exhibition is running October 15, 2022 through February 26, 2023.

To fabricate the artwork, Bullseye Studio first worked closely with Gibson to establish color palettes for each panel through a rigorous sampling process. Bullseye Studio then established the color mixes in glass to match the chosen palettes and then cut, assembled, and fused the required art layers. These art layers are intricate, with distinct hues primarily achieved through a lavish layering of many colors.

Integral to the overall installation, the glass work bears Gibson’s own handwritten messages. The twelve messages, one for each artwork, were affixed to the panels by hand painting Gibson’s lettering with various colors of glass enamels. This lettering was then permanently integrated into the panels during kilnforming.

Secured between horizontal rails suspended by cables and custom hardware while at the Portland Museum of Art, the installed artworks are intended to be viewed in the round. Given this intention for active public exhibition, each panel was laminated for safety, and for achieving a glossy appearance on both sides. All perimeter edges were hand polished—an extra fabrication measure that grants the nearly frameless artworks a glossy, finished look. The hand polish also optimizes the panels’ interactions with light, allowing viewers access to the sensory richness of both their surfaces and interiors.

A member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and of Cherokee descent, Gibson presented Bullseye Studio with a scintillating artistic and cultural vision that was an honor to fabricate. As the Portland Art Museum’s website puts it, Gibson “…created this dynamic work [They Come From Fire] to celebrate Portland’s Indigenous history, presence and vitality through the use of suspended glass panels, text, and photographic imagery created with Indigenous, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ artists, and other community members on and around the empty monument pedestals in the Park blocks in front of the museum.”

They Come From Fire was organized by the Portland Art Museum and curated by Kathleen Ash-Milby, Curator of Native American Art. PAM reports that support for the exhibition was provided by the Institute for Museum and Library Services, grant MA-249741-OMS-21, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation.