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Between Friends: Rebecca Carroll's Intimate Take On Leah Giberson's Art

September Shade by Leah Giberson
10"x8" ($24) | 14"x11" ($60) | 20"x16" ($240) | 40"x30" ($2,400)

To introduce Leah Giberson's new edition we reached out to intrepid author—and Giberson's lifelong friend—Rebecca Carroll. We were blown away by the results.

Leah Giberson and I grew up side by side in a small rural town where our first points of aesthetic allure were the warm-washes of wildflowers, garden tomato reds and summer squash yellows—all colors I see in her beautiful piece, September Shade, featuring two of her beloved lawn chairs. "Arranged forward facing in twos and threes" she says, "the chairs becomes couples, siblings or old friends".

As kids, there was something about Leah’s house, where we spent so much of our childhood—the foundation for a lifetime during which we have felt intermittently like a couple, siblings and old friends—that was wholly transformative and visually sublime.

The interior was dark and cool, bowls of blown glass marbles and beads on nearly every surface, swatches of fabric, multi-hued skeins of yarn and strings of handcrafted necklaces with different metals and gems hanging amid the toothbrushes in the bathroom. Everywhere you looked, a small story of art. So it is in every piece Leah has created since, but in particular September Shade, with its bright stripes and florals, incandescent and glorious in their unlikely but magnificent pairing. Like me and Leah as girls. She white, with silky, straight brown hair, peach-colored cheeks and rose-red lips; me black, with an untamed afro, dark eyes and a flat, round nose. We were bright stripes and florals that together made each other more vivid, more of who we were becoming.

Leah and I created whole entire worlds with glue and glitter and paint on large sheets of poster board—elaborate houses we designed as enhanced blueprints with enormous, dreamy bedrooms, plush rugs and swimming pools, streets and stop signs and grocery stores. We invented our own language and alter-universe that we maintained through short notes and long letters, some typed but most handwritten and almost always with elaborate doodles and drawings along the margins. We counted the “Ninas” in Al Hirschfeld’s New York Times drawings and illustrations, loved Devo and Prince and Saturday Night Live, and longed for the clothing we saw on the glossy pages of Vogue.

Everything we did or made, the language we used and the self-awareness we inspired in each other, as Leah says of her work today, explored “the intersection between fact and fiction, and the search for a more personal truth that lives somewhere in between.”

September Shade is exemplary of Leah’s relationship to color and texture and mixed media, which I see as both ancestral and interior—set deep in her DNA, a melancholic legacy of muted tones and precise boundaries. To this day, when I look at her work I think about how her gentle girl hands would pick single stems of poppies and daisies, bunches of lilac and lily of the valley, and create not merely a bouquet but an early rendering of her art.   

With art for everyone,
Rebecca Carroll