Sparkles, tapestries, sculptures, tampons (she calls them “pussy bullets”), toys, they all find their way into Ebony G. Patterson’s art. The Jamaican multimedia artist has a sobering, even majestic, allure about her over the top combinations of materials. She presents her work in blinged-out installations that pose tough questions about identity and gender within ‘popular black’ culture. Perhaps her work is best described in her own words, a reference to “beauty through the use of the grotesque but visceral, confrontational and deconstructed.” Patterson’s exhibition, “Dead Treez” at Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York, uses the predominately male Jamaican dance hall culture as a way to discuss masculinity. “Ideas about masculinity are indeed shifting in to a kind of faux feminine,” she says in her artist statement. Patterson finds a close connection between gender and the dance hall, where social norms are thrown out the window, and where men flash their presence through colorful fashion. In essence, the dance hall is representative of pop culture- it’s a stage for men (and women) to express their uniqueness and individuality. Her exhibit “examines the similarities and differences between ‘camp aesthetics’ the use of feminine gendered adornment in the construct of the urban masculine within popular culture. This body of work raises questions about body politics, performance of gender, gender and beauty, beauty and stereotyping, race and beauty, and body and ritual.”
Ebony G. Patterson’s “Dead Treez” is now on view at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York through April 3rd, 2016.