Justin Gibbens: Birds and Beasts
In conjunction with American Original: The Life and Work of John James Audubon.
Trained in both scientific illustration and traditional Chinese fine line bird-and-flower painting, Thorp, Washington artist Justin Gibbens has been drawing animals and fauna since childhood. His subversive zoological watercolor drawings are inspired by both real-life specimens and natural history sources. He embellishes images, celebrating the beauty and strangeness of the natural world, blending scientific knowledge with myth and imagination. Gibbens’ stylized images speak of evolution, mutation, and biodiversity, and serve as cautionary tales and stand-ins for our anthropocentric selves. In a time when attention spans are fleeting and our experience of nature is increasingly mediated, Gibbens works from the belief that we are living in a suspended state of urgency as ‘new normals’ unfold with surprising frequency.
Gibbens, whose work is featured in museum and public art collections across the country, roots his exploration of humankind’s relationship to the animal kingdom in complexity and ambiguity. When not in his studio, Gibbens spends his time spotting birds and chasing after reptilian inhabitants of the shrub-steppe.
Gibbens received his BA in painting from Central Washington University in 1998 and a Scientific Illustration Certificate from University of Washington in 2003. He is a founding member of PUNCH Projects, a central Washington-based artist collective. Gibbens was the recipient of a 2006 Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award, a 2008 Artist Trust Fellowship Award and most recently, a 2019 McMillen Foundation MAC Fellowship. He is represented by G. Gibson Gallery in Seattle, WA, and Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland, OR.