Elaborately Layered Gardens by Ebony G. Patterson Hide Haunting Messages Within Dazzling Displays

“when the land is in plumage…” (2020), glitter, glue, beads, plaster, conch shells, gold leaf, porcelain, paint, trimmings, jewelry, embellishments, fabric, jacquard tapestry, and paraffin wax, 9 x 16. 4 x 10.3 inches All images courtesy moniquemeloche.

Ebony G. Patterson’s multi-layered works are willfully superficial. The Jamaican artist weaves together a mélange of torn papers, tassels, appliqués, and feathered butterflies to create striking gardens replete with glitter and vibrant hues. “In many ways, I think of the work as the flower and the audience as the bees,” Patterson told Nasher Museum. “The bee is first attracted to the flower because of its color, but it’s not until you start peeling back the layers that you understand what’s happening with the nectar.”

Often set against wallpaper of her own design, Patterson’s mixed-media tapestries and smaller works are immersive and captivating, inviting study of both individual elements and how they interact. However, beneath the obvious appeal of fauna and flora lies more sinister messages about identity and violence. Likened to “secret poisons,” these inferences relate to the anguish and perpetual mourning many women feel, and in her sprawling tapestry titled “the wailing…guides us home…and there is a bellying on the land…,” for example, feminine hands and limbs attempt to grasp for something beyond the entangled mass of jacquard and beads. “Each form bravely assumes a posture of distress, the onerous emotional and physical labor required to conduct acts of devotion, the soul care that grants permission to confront historic and inherited traumas,” a statement says.

Patterson lives and works between Kingston, Jamaica, and Chicago, and she’s included in multiple upcoming shows: Love, What is Left Unspoken?Opening at the on March 25, High Museum in Atlanta, a solo exhibition at Hales GalleryThis event runs from May 5 to June 18, with this November, at The Museum of Contemporary ArtChicago. You can see more of her intricate works at www.taylor-maestro.com moniquemeloche, where she’s represented.

“the wailing…guides us home…and there is a bellying on the land…” (2021), mixed media on jacquard woven photo tapestry and custom vinyl wallpaper, 10 x 13 x 1 feet

Detail of “the wailing…guides us home…and there is a bellying on the land…” (2021), mixed media on jacquard woven photo tapestry and custom vinyl wallpaper, 10 x 13 x 1 feet

Detail of “when the land is in plumage…” (2020), glitter, glue, beads, plaster, conch shells, gold leaf, porcelain, paint, trimmings, jewelry, embellishments, fabric, jacquard tapestry and paraffin wax, 9 x 16. 4 x 10.3 foot

“…and the dew cracks the earth, in five acts of lamentation…between the cuts…beneath the leaves…below the soil…” (2020), digital print on archival watercolor paper with hand-cut and torn elements, construction paper, wallpaper, poster board, acrylic gel medium, feathered monarch butterflies, 9.25 x 50 feet

Detail of “…and the dew cracks the earth, in five acts of lamentation…between the cuts…beneath the leaves…below the soil…” (2020), digital print on archival watercolor paper with hand-cut and torn elements, construction paper, wallpaper, poster board, acrylic gel medium, feathered monarch butterflies, 9.25 x 50 feet

” …they stood in a time of unknowing…for those who bear/bare witness” (2018), hand-cut jacquard woven photo tapestry with glitter, appliqués, pins, embellishments, fabric, tassels, brooches, acrylic, glass pearls, beads, and hand-cast heliconias, on artist-designed fabric wallpaper, 12.7 x 16.7 feet

Detail of ” …they stood in a time of unknowing…for those who bear/bare witness” (2018), hand-cut jacquard woven photo tapestry with glitter, appliqués, pins, embellishments, fabric, tassels, brooches, acrylic, glass pearls, beads, and hand-cast heliconias, on artist-designed fabric wallpaper, 12.7 x 16.7 feet

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