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Gibby Waitzkin

The natural world is the driving force in my work. The botanicals, seeds to plants, beautiful forms-flowers, fibers to harvest, some naturally dyed -all cooked- beaten-a process dating back over 2,000 years ago. The imagery I use has evolved-a sense of beauty, a sense of reflection. Every work entails a return to the symbolic meaning – of the plant or the color, or the imagery. The words all cluster and return to- truth, peace, love, beauty, tolerance, stability, strength and protection.

The “weaving” process – a lattice work of strips of naturally dyed fibers of banana, flax, cattail, iris, cotton and hemp, is a key element. These woven strips-symbolize that we are all connected – we all have something in common – we can come together. In a period of great divisiveness, these woven elements symbolize the strength we derive from interconnection and the brilliance of our multicolored community. Many works start with a photograph which creates both a theme and a tone and then a color palate to support and illuminate the tone, woven lattice, eco-prints and found objects, are added to convey and exemplify the theme. The vessels reflect the turbulent journey we all must take to honor and preserve what is most important to us.

Click here to view a Gallery Talk by Gibby Waitzkin as a juror!

Read this artist's biography

Gibby Waitzkin is a paper artist living in Floyd County, Virginia. Her green studio, built in 2008, is located on a thirty-acre farm off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It includes recycled wood from site, collection of rain water for paper studio, insulation from recycled paper, and an exterior green wall. Her education and training focused on photography, printmaking and art education at the University of Georgia and graduate work at Georgia State University. Using her art skills, she became a community organizer in civil rights and the environment in Atlanta, Georgia and then on the lower East Side of New York City, in urban agriculture and green energy solutions. After working on these issues in the Carter Administration., she formed Gibson Creative, a design, marketing & communications company working on non-profit issues- climate, the environment, healthcare, women and the arts.

In 2000, after facing serious health issues, she returned to her primary love-art, to start an intensive dive in to hand papermaking using the ancient methods from plants. She grows, harvests, processes and makes paper from bamboo, banana, iris, lilies, papyrus, grape vines, thistle, artichoke -any plant with fiber. She has exhibited and taught workshops all over the country,  including Floyd Center for the Arts, Piedmont Arts Center, Pyramid Atlantic, Hahn Center at Virginia Tech, Black House, Durham Arts Council, NC Museum of Art, Sarah B Duke Gardens, Raleigh Fine Arts, Penland, Olin Hall Galleries, Meredith College, Hollins Museum, and the Women’s Museum at Arlington Cemetery.

Gibby believes in giving back, and has served on many Boards over the years- the Washington Project for the Arts, the Corcoran Galleries & College of Art and Design, Nasher Museum Friends, SustainFloyd, and most recently, the Voters’ Participation Center-assisting millions of the rising American electorate to be registered to vote for the first time. In her work, she has striven to create things that are aesthetically pleasing, but underlying each work is a philosophical statement which derives from her decades of community organizing and political activism.

Gibby was recently named the 2021 Distinguished Artist of the Year by the Floyd Center for the Arts.

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