In “Lost and Invisible Bodies, Enshrined in Glitter and Bling,” Jillian Steinhauer (for Hyperallergic) writes an evocative review of Ebony G. Patterson’s latest exhibitions: “Dead Treez and …buried again to carry on growing…,” on view at the Museum of Arts and Design (2 Columbus Circle, Midtown, Manhattan) through April 3, and “…when they grow up…” at the Studio Museum in Harlem (144 West 125th Street, Harlem, Manhattan), on view through June 26 [see previous posts ‘Ebony G. Patterson: Dead Treez’ and Art Exhibition: Ebony G. Patterson’s “…when they grow up…”]. Steinhauer leads us into the viewing experience as if solving a mystery step-by-step, while whetting our curiosity with statements by the artist herself and others, such as Jamaican writer Olive Senior: “Gardening in the Tropics, you never know what you’ll turn up. Quite often, bones.” See the full review at Hyperallergic (excerpts below).
I am struggling to photograph a tapestry. It’s patterned and glittered all over — pink sparkles clashing with red flowers that rub up against three-dimensional objects like toy trucks. My camera and eye don’t know where to focus. The gallery is dark, dramatically lit, but the tapestry is a haze of sparkles and shimmers. I make out a zigzag, a line of fringe cutting its way through the clamor. I train my lens upon it and wait for the image to resolve. As it does, I realize I’m looking at not just a line but a leg. The fringe belongs to a pair of geometric patterned pants. I trace them up to where they meet a gold torso, but the body stops there.
“In order to force one’s way out of invisibility one has to create a reason to be seen,” says Jamaican artist Ebony G. Patterson.
I walk around the tapestry, which rests on the floor, in an attempt to see its contents more clearly. There are two toy guns covered in floral prints; flowers everywhere, embedded in glitter and sitting atop the surface in silk; a miniature lace skirt; two toy trucks. There is another body, much smaller than the first, represented by a camouflage outfit. This one, like the first, is a body only by virtue of its clothing: shirt, pants, shoes. There is no head to speak of, no arms or flesh.
“There is a challenge being made about seeing and looking. The seeing is what happens on social media, but the looking is what I’m asking you to do,” says Patterson.
What is the relationship between these two sets of clothing without bodies? Am I looking at a mother and her son — or the remains of them? Where were they going? Were the guns only toys? How did the mother’s right shoe — a dazzling boot, a glittering, embroidered articulation of turquoise and white set atop a thick black heel — end up so far from her leg? Whose shoe is the other one — a three-dimensional red and black slipper — that sits near it?
Where are the bodies? [. . .]