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Join us live for a virtual lecture by artist Ebony G. Patterson followed by an audience Q&A.
Ebony G. Patterson’s multilayered practice—in painting, sculpture, installation, performance, and video—uses beauty as a tool to address global, social, and political injustices. Most known for her large-scale tapestries and works on paper, each of her pieces begins with an elaborate photoshoot in the artist’s studio. For this, Patterson invites locals from her Kingston neighborhood to pose in opulent sets with specially designed props and costumes that reference pageantry, bringing the everyday to a hyperreal level in a carnivalesque gesture. The subsequent image is then printed on heavy paper or hand-woven jacquard, which Patterson manipulates, embellishes, and reshapes into an almost sculptural composition in which the figures are at once revealed and concealed. This visual fracturing reflects the dissonance at the heart of Patterson’s practice. While the bright, effusive visual cues on the surface of her work suggest vivifying celebration, these signifiers point to the opposite. Patterson seduces the viewer into acknowledging a darker truth lurking ominously beneath the surface. Upon closer inspection, the figures in these embellished paper works are disembodied, un-whole. Their ghostly forms hover amidst a tangle of flora and fauna, plants which themselves might harbor a secret poison. These are gardens memorializing the anonymous, innocent victims of social injustice around the world. Here, bodies are buried and souls are set free.
Patterson received her BFA from Edna Manley College in Kingston, Jamaica and an MFA from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Patterson has had solo exhibitions and projects at many US institutions, including Baltimore Museum of Art; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Atlanta Contemporary Art Center; and SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah. Dead Treez, Patterson’s first large-scale institutional solo show, originated at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin (2015) and traveled to Museum of Arts and Design, New York (2015); Boston University Art Galleries (2016); and UB Art Galleries, University at Buffalo, New York (2017). Patterson’s work was included in Open Spaces Kansas City (2018), 32nd São Paulo Biennial: Live Uncertainty (2016); 12th Havana Biennial: Between the Idea and the Experience, Cuba (2015); Prospect.3: Notes for Now, New Orleans (2014); and the Jamaica Biennial (2014), National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston. Her first major survey exhibition …while the dew is still on the roses… opened at Pérez Art Museum Miami in 2018, then toured to Speed Art Museum, Louisville in 2019 and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina in 2020.
Established in 2006 by a generous gift from Bill and Stephanie Sick, this distinguished visiting professorship enables internationally renowned artists and designers to visit and teach at SAIC.
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
View the Ebony G. Patterson Resource Guide for additional information about the artist.