Alabama artist Delrico Gibson uses ‘Strings of Gratitude’ to tell his story of recovery

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Delrico Gibson poses in front of his artwork at UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts.

Delrico Gibson poses in front of his artwork at UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts.

Lexi Coon, UAB

Delrico Gibson’s art is carefully controlled chaos. He twists and turns yarn, nails and wood to form complex layers of color.

But the geometry is tangible.

“And actually all these pictures that I make, they’re actually mathematical equations. That’s what they are,” Gibson said.

His pieces are multi-dimensional. They jump out at you — literally. He sculpts his materials, and then sketches with brightly-colored threads of yarn.

One of Delrico Gibson’s Artworks at UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts.
One of Delrico Gibson’s Artworks at UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts. (Lexi Coon/UAB)

To make these, Gibson relies on his hand strength and finger dexterity. Things he recently lost during a life-threatening accident. 

In early 2020, Gibson was working to open a family restaurant in Clanton. One day, he ran out of lighter fluid for his kitchen smoker. Instead, he poured gasoline on an open fire. 

“And that’s when I heard the boom boom. I heard the boom, boom and gasoline spewed all over me. I hit the floor. I was on fire. I was on fire!” he said. 

The explosion severely burned his face and body. And, it fused his fingers together. 

Gibson thought he’d never make art again. Instead, it became part of his rebirth. 

“I’ve always been able to make and create my art. Always. Up until the explosion, I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it again because my hands and my fingers are marred together like this,” he said.  

Gibson had multiple surgeries at UAB Hospital and worked with a hand therapist. His doctors and family encouraged him to continue his artistry throughout therapy.

He dedicates his new art collection — “Strings of Gratitude” — to them.

Delrico Gibson and Jackie Gibson pose in front of his artwork at UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts.
Delrico Gibson and Jackie Gibson pose in front of his artwork at UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts. (Josie Shaw/WBHM)

“And I really believe that once they seen that I had this sincere willingness and desire to get better, they just kept pouring in knowledge and experience and helping me,” he said.

The new pieces are displayed in an intimate gallery space at UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts. They take the viewer on an emotional journey by tying together different threads, emotions and stories of Gibson’s recovery.

And, each of the pieces talks to each other, one reminiscent of his frustration with his body’s limitations — when blues and greens try to pull themselves out of the frame. It hangs next to a brilliant/bright yellow piece that explores his renewal.

Delrico Gibson poses in front of his artwork at UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts.
Delrico Gibson poses in front of his artwork at UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts. (Lexi Coon/UAB)

Institute Senior Director John Fields said the gallery takes his breath away.

“The strings are almost like brushstrokes and there’s an intense color. So when you first walk in, you’re almost kind of like over-stimulated in terms of like, it’s literally every color of the rainbow, like in every direction,“ he said.

One of Delrico Gibson’s Artworks at UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts.
One of Delrico Gibson’s Artworks at UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts. (Lexi Coon/UAB)

There’s a stereotype that some modern art is cold and uninviting for the viewer. But, Fields said Gibson — who is self-taught and has no formal training — has an approach that makes his art very personable.

“And then the element of his survival and his recovery journey comes in and adds this little element that makes it as equal about the art as it is about just our humanity and what it means to persevere,” Fields said. “But then on top of that, the work itself is fantastic.”

Physically and mentally, Delrico said he is doing better than ever. And he wants to share his inspiration and teach others to embrace their own craft.

“It’s all about spreading the joy, and we need as much love and joy we can get in this world as we can get. I’m happy, honored and elated to be able to do that,” he said.

Delrico Gibson poses in front of his artwork at UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts.
Delrico Gibson poses in front of his artwork at UAB’s Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts. (Lexi Coon/UAB)

The exhibit runs at the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts
through August 12th.

Editor’s note: UAB holds WBHM’s license, but our news and business departments operate independently.

 

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