Don’t Make Me Over by Jeffrey Gibson

CCS Bard Atrium Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Jul 22, 2023


Featuring Arielle Twist (Nehiyaw [Cree]), drumming by Carol Powder of the drum group Chubby Cree, and custom tracks by Kahelelani Mahone (Kanaka Maoli [Hawaiian])

Don’t make me over
Now that I’d do anything for you
Don’t make me over
Now that you know how I adore you

Don’t pick on the things I say, the things I do
Just love me with all my faults, the way I love you
I’m begging you

An original collaborative performance by artist Jeffrey Gibson (Mississippi Band of Choctaw and Cherokee) with artist, author, and educator Arielle Twist (Nehiyaw [Cree]), a two-spirit trans woman, centered around the narratives and lines that course through the song “Don’t Make Me Over.”

Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David in 1962 and originally recorded by Dionne Warwick, “Don’t Make Me Over” is titled after a retort the singer made after the songwriters snubbed her for another singer. Her rebuke became the title of her first hit single—a new song, this time written for her—a track about love, devotion, submission, and refusal, all qualities that also register in Twist’s multifaceted work. In this performance, presented alongside the exhibition Indian Theater, narratives between Gibson’s and Twist’s practices and preoccupations merge and expand through an exploration of the song. It is no surprise that “Don’t Make Me Over” has historically been an anthem for the LGBTQIA2S+ community.

Jeffrey Gibson (Mississippi Band of Choctaw and Cherokee), based in Hudson, New York, draws influence from popular music, fashion, literature, cultural and critical theory, and his own individual heritage. He recontextualizes the familiar to offer a succinct commentary on cultural hybridity and the assimilation of modernist artistic strategies within contemporary art.

Arielle Twist (Nehiyaw [Cree]), originally from George Gordon First Nation, is a trans woman who creates to reclaim and harness ancestral magic and memories. An author and multidisciplinary artist, her writing is widely published. Her debut collection, Disintegrate/Dissociate, won the Indigenous Voices Award for Published Poetry.