Artist shares how collection of items became art in upcoming BHSU Geek Speak

Gina Gibson, associate professor of digital communication at BHSU, reveals how junk became art in her upcoming Geek Speak lecture: "I Am the Bone Collector, Now What Do I Do?" Thursday, Sept. 14 at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall, room 110 at Black Hills State University.

To some, the rocks, bones, feathers, and other items found in nature are just a part of the scenery. To Gina Gibson, associate professor of digital communication at Black Hills State University, these items are art. In her upcoming Geek Speak Lecture: "I am the Bone Collector, Now What Do I Do?" Gibson discusses how items she has collected have meaning beyond their aesthetic qualities.

Visitors to the BHSU Ruddell Gallery will observe Gibson's exhibit "Remains" from Aug. 21-Sept. 27. The Geek Speak lecture Thursday, Sept. 14 at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall 110 will unveil the meaning behind the pieces of collected goods that are on display and how Gibson was inspired to share her collection.

"My original vision for the show was all bones," said Gibson. "Then, it developed into more. I started to see things I had collected in groups, in pairs, together - it just sort of made sense. So I didn't fight it, I just went with it."

A combination of hobbies resulted in the collection Gibson acquired and made into art. Hiking, thrift store shopping, and accompanying friends while hunting led to finding items that would otherwise be considered junk to become artwork.

Most of the items Gibson has made into art were given by friends. Bones donated by hunting pals were not the polished version seen today. Gibson researched how to clean and preserve the remains from local taxidermists. It was a messy process, according to Gibson.

Gibson is careful when collecting outdoors. She adheres to Leave No Trace principles and does not take items that should remain in nature.

"There have been so many times when I've been standing in front of something and thought, 'This would be so cool' but I've left it," Gibson said.

She respects hunters' philosophies in regards to the environment. "Their understanding of these things is so deep. In some cases, hunters are the biggest advocates for the environment. So, if it's somewhere that hunters are allowed to hunt I feel like can 'hunt' as well," said Gibson.

Creating art keeps Gibson inspired to teach. She hopes that through her art and teaching, she can inspire students to enjoy their passion and find an outlet for their creativity.

"I know of all the things I've made this show feels the most legitimately me," said Gibson.

In regards to how collecting turned into creating art, she said "I thought, 'I need to make things' because if I'm making, I'm excited. Making art allows me to tap into that thing that I was passionate about my whole life. When I'm not making, I'm not ok. I'm not as clear. I'm just not in the right direction. It balances me."

The Geek Speak lecture series, sponsored by the BHSU University Honors program, features academic discussion and topics not normally discussed in the traditional classroom. The goal of the weekly lectures is to expose students to diversity within the disciplines. All Geek Speak lectures are free and open to the public. The following on-campus Geek Speak presentations, which are held Thursdays at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall, room 110, are scheduled for this semester:
  • Sept. 14: "I Am The Bone Collector, Now What Do I Do?" by Gina Gibson, associate professor of digital communication
  • Sept. 21: "The Joy of SET: Inroads into Combinatorics and Finite Geometry" by Dr. Daniel May, assistant professor of mathematics
  • Sept. 28: "Imagining Mythica: Hit-and-Run Game Design for the Bullheaded OR Building Narrative Engines for an ADD world at the Intersection of Math, Myth, Movies, and Money OR Perseverance and Beginner's Mind: The Eye-opening March from Mythica to Walmart" by Karl Lehman, instructor of English
  • Oct. 5: "'The Meaning of Everything': The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary" by Dr. Andrey Reznikov, professor of English
  • Oct. 12: "Tasting Life Twice: On Life-Writing and Wellbeing" by Dr. Denice Turner, assistant professor of education
  • Oct. 19: "Use of Images for Visualization and Visual Literacy in Language Class" by Dr. Du-Lu Hsiao, assistant professor of Spanish
  • Oct. 26: "Something Wicked This Way Comes: The History, Myths, and Rituals of Halloween" by Dr. Courtney Huse-Wika, director of the Honors Program and associate professor of English
  • Nov. 2: "Veterans Legacies in the Black Hills" by Kelly Kirk, instructor of history
  • Nov. 16: "Searching for Riemann: A brief history and some recent insights into one of the most intriguing unsolved million-dollar problem in mathematics" by Dr. Parthasarathi Nag, professor of mathematics
  • Nov. 30: University Honors Capstone Defenses
  • Dec. 7: University Honors Capstone Defenses
To read short descriptions of each lecture topic, visit

For more information, contact Dr. Courtney Huse-Wika, director of the University Honors Program and assistant professor of English, at 605-642-6918 or email