Ebony Patterson Dead Treez
Artist Ebony G. Patterson: Thoughtful, Colorful, and a Big Personality
By Alexander Winter
Published Nov 2015
Patterson’s open demeanor vibrantly reflects the sparkling glitter that adorns her tapestry works. Patterns are to be found everywhere, from the context of the beautiful wallpaper that frames her work and the skins of mannequins in her installation “Swag Swag Swag” to the lush synthetic floral forest in the museum’s Tiffany Jewelry Gallery. Ebony G. Patterson’s first New York City solo exhibit opens today, November 10th 2015 at MAD, the Museum of arts and design at Columbus Circle. “Typically the feminine is measured by the masculine, so what does it mean to flip that around?” The systematic use of patterns metaphorically speaks to societal observations she carefully prepares to shake awareness to the detriment of complacency. Feminine and masculine swing back and forth in a pendulum of changing connotations as the group of mannequins pose, with harmoniously clashing pattern-camouflaged skin; a reflection on the fashions and culture of Jamaican dance halls. In the same room we find ourselves in a sea of glitter, patterned fabric-enveloped guns and toys, as well as the blurred outlines of flattened bodies, as colorful as a hidden treasure hall filled with jewels and gems, violently reminding us of some of the historical and daily violences and how they are perpetrated by the media. The writing on the walls reveals glimpses into the artist’s thought patterns. One of them reads: “An image was circulating on social media of a three-year-old child who was murdered in a tenement housing project. Bystanders took pictures and shared them with the intent to raise awareness. I think there is something very strange that happens with people who choose to share images like that. We no longer think about the individual; it’s not a person, it’s an image, it’s an object. We now only experience the world through a screen that separates us from the reality. The catch-22 is that we didn’t have social media, these people—these invisibles—would not visible, we would not know about them.” This provides a direct and clear connection between her work and the real world issues of how the form of the medium through which we consume information shapes our behavior and experience of reality; very reminiscent of Marshall McLuhan’s theories in which the type of medium is key rather than the content conveyed. “POV” is a series that is part of an ongoing effort on part of the museum that offers artists the opportunity to examine parts of the museum’s permanent collection and reshape the visitors’ experience of these objects. In Patterson’s case, the entire Tiffany Jewelry Gallery has been transformed into a floral jungle, with birds of paradise, plastic animals, and patterns abound. The piece is called “…buried again to carry on growing…” and contains enveloped body parts that speak of the violence often endured by marginalized communities. We delve through the collection as explorers in this lush world of contrasts. Patterson spends her time between Jamaica and Lexington, Kentucky. She first exhibited some of this work in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, home to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, which organized “Dead Treez.” Currently on sabbatical from teaching, she values the words of John Waters: “Go out in the world and fuck it up beautifully.” “Thinking about it as a kind of stand in relation to social standings. What happens when people are somehow a part of an environment and then those environments become or affect the conditioning in the way that we see them. And somehow the clothing then becomes a way of propelling or pushing themselves out of the plane, pushing themselves into being visible.” - Ebony G. Patterson on “Dead Treez” Exhibition: Dead Treez Timespan: November 10th 2015 to April 3rd 2016 Location: MAD Museum, 2 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019 More Information: MADMuseum.org