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 Sybil Gibson  (1908 - 1995)

About: Sybil Gibson


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Lived/Active: Alabama      Known for: naive figure, multiple portrait

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BIOGRAPHY for Sybil Gibson
1908 (Dora, Alabama)


Self portrait - Self-portrait

Often Known For
naive figure, multiple portrait

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born Sybil Aaron in Dora, Alabama, she is regarded as an Outsider Artist.  Despite being the daughter of a successful coalmine operator, she spent the vast majority of her life in poverty.  Sybil studied at Jacksonville State Teachers College, earning a B.S. in elementary education and eventually became an elementary school teacher.  She moved from Alabama to Florida in the 1940s.  Sybil did not lead a happy life.  It is evident that her marriage failed not once, but twice and she left her only daughter to be raised by her parents.

She was struck with the urge to create at the age of 50.  With no training and no previous inclination toward painting, she started with the materials at hand; grocery bags and powdered tempera.  Through the next thirty-five years she used these materials to create haunting images.  Painting for Sybil was a compulsion that blotted out her former life.  Shortly before the opening of her first art exhibition at the Miami Museum of Modern Art in May 1971, Gibson disappeared, leaving drawings scattered about her yard.  Unfortunately a number of Sybil Gibson's paintings were lost to the elements.  She had a habit of disappearing from time to time and when she moved on, she simply left her paintings behind.

In 1971 the Miami Museum of Modern Art gave Sybil a one-woman show.  Although well received, not many of her works were sold.  Shortly after, she moved back to Alabama and in 1981, entered a home for the elderly.  By that time, her sight was beginning to fail and so her daughter arranged for her return to Florida for a cataract operation, which restored her deteriorating sight.  Sybil then moved into a home for the aged in Florida, close to her daughter, where she painted until her death.

Sybil Gibson died January 2, 1995.  She was eighty-six.  Today, Sybil's work is included in the permanent collections of the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama; the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Alabama; the Museum of American Folk Art, New York and the New Orleans Museum of Art in Louisiana.

Source: Visionary Art

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