Among Jamaicans working in the fine arts, few have gained more acclaim than Ebony G. Patterson. Even still, Dead Treez, an arresting series of mixed-media installations and lavish tapestries exploring class, gender, race, fashion and dancehall culture which opens today at New York’s Museum of Art and Design, is sure to send her cache waayyy up. LargeUp was fortunate to catch a preview of the Kingston-born, Kentucky-based artist’s first New York City solo exhibition, and we left in a daze, jarred by Patterson’s use of bejeweled fashions, floral arrangements and blinding color all around.
The show’s tapestries reference dancehall fashions as they comment on death as viewed through social media, while the Swag Swag Krew, a colorful cast of boasy mannequins attired in floral prints, comments on changing mores for masculinity and fashion. Attired in toy shades, a checkered suit and dangling silver chains, one member of the Krew holds a phone for a selfie in one hand while cradling a Guinness Extra Stout in the other — a classic bashment pose. Dancehall fashion has been a staple presence in Patterson’s work: In her 2010 work Christ & Co., she presented representations of highly-accessorized dancehall artists inside an alter.
Patterson, whose work recently appeared in an episode of the hit TV series Empire, was a no-brainer inclusion in our 2013 roundup of Jamaican visual artists to know. We’re looking forward to speaking with her regarding her inspirations for Dead Treez, which runs through April 3, 2016. Until then, here’s some select images courtesy of the artist.