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This spring the Gibbes will unveil OMNISCIENCE a sculpture by internationally acclaimed artist Fred Wilson. Renowned for his work that challenges assumptions of history, culture, race and conventions of display, Wilson’s interdisciplinary practice reframes objects and cultural symbols to encourage viewers to reconsider traditional social and historical narratives. This major new work is inspired by the story of Omar Ibn Said an Islamic scholar enslaved in the Carolinas from 1807 until his death in 1864. Said is believed to have written the only known Arabic-language autobiography penned by an enslaved African in the United States. Wilson collaborated with local blacksmiths at the American College of the Building Arts to explore Said’s powerful story through a monumental metalwork created in the tradition of decorative wrought ironwork common in Charleston’s historic built environment. The hand forged iron is juxtaposed with a bound replica of Said’s words written in iron gall ink on handwoven paper. The sculpture represents the artist’s first-ever venture in ironwork and is the first work Wilson has created specifically for a southeastern museum. This museum acquisition and presentation is made possible by our generous lead donors The Wayne and Carolyn Jones Charitable Trust, and The Kathryn Salmanonwitz Donor Advised Fund. Additional Support was provided by Bank of America; Lynch Cracraft Wealth Management of Raymond James; Southern Land Company; Mr. and Mrs. Ronald L. Thompson; Ms. Janet Hopkins; The Emma and George Christopher Charitable Fund; Dr. and Mrs. David Adams; Mr. and Mrs. Allan J. Anderson
"– Fred Wilson. Image © MCG Photography
Fred Wilson. Image © MCG Photography"