Linda Blackford reviews Ebony G. Patterson


[Many thanks to Dominique Brebion (AICA) for bringing this item to our attention.] In LEXGO, Linda Blackford writes about Jamaican artist Ebony G. Patterson, saying, “You may not know about this UK professor, but the international art world sure does.” Patterson is associate professor of painting at the University of Kentucky School of Art and Visual Studies. Here are excerpts of Blackford’s review:

[. . .] Ebony G. Patterson has been a painting professor at UK since 2007, but these days, she has to maneuver her schedule around a busy lineup of shows and exhibitions. On Thursday, she was in Ann Arbor, speaking at her solo show at the University of Michigan. This month and next, her work will be featured at the Illinois State University in Chicago, and later this year, she will have her biggest museum show at the Perez Art Museum Miami. Her sumptuous, bejeweled tapestries and tableaux have appeared at Art Basel in Miami, shows in Atlanta, Cuba, Canada, her native Jamaica and even the 21c Museum Hotel in Lexington. The New York Times hailed her “smashing solo show,” at the city’s Museum of Arts and Design, Vogue Magazine profiled her, and the TV show “Empire,” hung some of her art in a character’s penthouse. And then, just two weeks ago, she was named a recipient of the United States Artists Fellowship Award in the visual arts, which comes with a prize of $50,000.

Patterson, in other words, is an art world superstar who happens to live and work in Lexington.

She, however, doesn’t really like that description.

“There’s something about the word superstar that seems like that person is unapproachable or unengaging,” she said in a recent interview. “I just work and I just love what I do and I’m willing to trust in whatever it is I’m doing and seeing wherever it takes me. A star today can be not so interesting tomorrow.”

Patterson, 36, concedes she’s had good timing — her work asks questions about race, gender, violence and identity at a moment when our culture is eager to examine and discuss those issues. Critics have been enthralled with her work inspired by Jamaican dancehall culture, where she explored that world’s hyper-masculinity and violence amid gender-bending sartorial fare.

“Her work is about a legacy of representing people of color, and she combines that interest with a deep, opulent visual sense, an appreciation of materials and the associations they bring,” said Stuart Horodner, director of the UK Art Museum. “Her work is speaking to a particular moment in the art world at a time when issues of race and identity are being focused on, and artists of color are getting more recognition. Her work is audacious and unforgettable, and curators, galleries and collectors have noticed.”

One of her newest shows, which opened Thursday at the University of Michigan, is titled “Of 72,” referencing the 72 men and a woman who disappeared during an armed conflict between drug cartels and police in Kingston, Jamaica in 2010. The faces are set into bandanas appliqued with flowers and jewels, then half-covered with more cloth. On the floor beneath them sits another tableau of glittery images and ghostly glass shoes. [. . .]

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