Milan Brewster, Contributing Writer
A story of home lies behind a white quilt with pink and blue patches draped from the wooden beams inside the Rump Gallery in North Richmond.
The quilt is surrounded by pictures in wood frames, displaying locations that Southern American photographer and artist Trish J. Gibson uses to symbolize home.
Gibson, a 2018 VCU MFA alum who teaches in the photography and film department, shares themes of Southern tradition, queer connectivity, loss, growth and generational inheritance in her newest exhibit, “I Wore Her All Around Me.” The show had its opening reception at the Rump Gallery on Saturday.
“There are a lot of things going on [in the exhibit], but I am mostly thinking about connectivity and Southern traditions, because I grew up in rural Tennessee,” Gibson said. “Also, thinking about being queer and growing up in the rural South.”
“I Wore Her All Around Me” conveys loss through memories of the artist’s grandmother. Some photographs showed her own home in Richmond, as well as both her grandmother’s home and childhood home.
“These are places that I considered or still consider home,” Gibson said, referencing an image of her parent’s home. “The windows and the shadows of the window are thinking about entry points into a home space.”
Around the gallery floor during the opening reception were little mementos, such as a green toy worm and her grandma’s sweatshirt.
The exhibit displayed family memories, such as a quilt that reminded her of the loss of her grandmother, who helped raise her. The quilt in particular was one of the last things that Gibson talked to her about before she died in 2018.
VCU photography and film lecturer Peter Cochrane said Gibson’s work shows a transformation.
“It [the photos] works well with the material of natural wood and the soft whites she used for matting,” Cochrane said. “She really let her art become part of the space she is in.”
Poems based on the work of writer Dorothy Allison are included in the display, typed writings on pieces of paper. Gibson used the leftover paper from her MFA thesis for the writings.
Gibson said she chose to display the writings to connect her recent work with her past.
“I’m tying threads together of connectivity of the last work I did to now,” Gibson said.
The poems concentrate on her Southern upbringing and the idea of growth through loss and development.
“I feel very close to the exhibit — like I had entered someone’s home with all the pictures of her homes and the quilt just hanging to see right when you walk in,” said event attendee Rachel Martinell. “It’s like you’re stepping into her home.”