As a Marine combat engineer with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, John Gibson’s job was to identify improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines, place and clear obstacles, lay out concertina wire and build bunkers. This essential, physical and tactile combat zone work not only requires close attention to detail but also an understanding of how the lives of fellow servicemembers rely on your skill. The sights, sounds and intense memories of combat left a deep impression on Gibson ’20, one that he invites others to experience through his immersive art exhibition, “A Sapper’s Abyss.”
Gibson’s exhibition—an installation, kinetic sculpture and performance piece in one, titled after the traditional name for a combat engineer—is featured in the December 2020 issue of Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature, a digital quarterly journal edited by Diane Wiener, Burton Blatt Institute research professor and associate director of interdisciplinary programs and outreach. The issue also features an interview with the artist.