One of Gib’s newest and most stunning pieces is “Requiem”. Though it began with a commission from a collector who asked Gib to create his own, personal requiem, in many ways, Gib has been working toward it for years. It includes the highlights of his life, both positive and negative, including the ever present pain of losing a son and a daughter.
He acknowledges it’s the toughest thing he’s ever done. A requiem can be done musically, he points out. It can be done narratively. But to create it visually is an entirely different challenge.
In music and story, the listener or reader put in the visual images. But in sculpture, the artist has to put it in, and what he puts in has to “ring true” to the viewer. It has to be accessible and comprehensible to people of different cultures and values and experiences.
“It’s like if you do David and Goliath,” Gib says. “It has to tell you about fear and courage, and giants and slingshots – everything – because it doesn’t make sense without that.”
The figure of Requiem came to Gib in a dream the night Camille, his canine companion of 13 years, died at the foot of his bed. “I saw this angel in the doorway,” he says. In his depiction, the angel has one wing grounding the figure to the earth, and one toward heaven. The chest cavity is carved out, with a hand to the heart and the soul.
At age 76, dealing constantly with health issues, mortality and legacy are much on Gib’s mind. But not in a fearful or morbid way. “I’m beginning to look at death in an entirely different way now,” he says. “I know it’s a cliché, and I sound like some third rate Baptist preacher, but it’s a beginning. Not an ending.”
“Hollywood says death is a terrible thing,” Gib says, “but I don’t think so. I think we start over. It’s like going to sleep at night, and you have a dream. But you don’t wake up from that dream. You actually live that life.”
“The thing I love about my work is that I get to say, ‘I love you, man. It’s going to be OK.’”