Ebony G. Patterson: If We Must Die...

Ebony G. Patterson: If We Must Die...

Ebony G. Patterson

If We Must Die…

In Conversation with the Artist
Wednesday, March 27, 5:00 p.m. 

Conversation Led by Visiting Scholar Colette Gaiter
Followed by a Reception

Not Distracted by Shiny Objects
Among other materials, Ebony G. Patterson's work includes "bling". As she says, "gaudiness is an overindulgence in prettiness, but is calculated." In her work, bling can be seen as a metaphor for how people are attracted to an idea or a piece of knowledge or information, just as they are drawn to a shiny object. She alludes to the way bling is part of international black popular music culture and viscerally dismisses traditional Western and inherently white ideas of "elevated" aesthetics. Her work integrates bling, bright colors, and images of people who have died violently, demanding further investigation into societal structures that allow such disregard for the bodies and lives of black people. Encouraging viewers to look closely and beyond seductive surfaces, her work engages larger and deeper insights on blackness and culture embedded into and behind the sparkle, shine, and pattern. 

–Colette Gaiter

Colette Gaiter, Professor, Department of Art & Design and Department of Africana Studies
University of Delaware, Newark

Video slideshow of conversation. 

Ebony G. Patterson: If We Must Die...
Exhibition on view: February 11–April 20, 2019

Known for her drawings, tapestries, videos, sculptures and installations that involve surfaces layered with flowers, glitter, lace and beads, Ebony G. Patterson’s works investigate forms of embellishment as they relate to youth culture within disenfranchised communities. Her neo-baroque works address violence, masculinity, “bling,” visibility and invisibility within the post-colonial context of her native Jamaica and within black youth culture globally. The references to Carnival in Patterson’s use of beads, plastic ornaments, and reflective materials reflect her interest in mining international aesthetics in a practice that is a race against time, as Patterson captures, mourns, and glorifies the passing of too many lives.


Born in Jamaica, Ebony G. Patterson received her BFA from Edna Manley College in Jamaica and an MFA from Sam Fox College of Design & Visual Arts in St. Louis. She has had recent solo exhibitions at The Perez Museum in Miami, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Atlanta Center for Contemporary Art, and Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago. She was featured in biennials in Havana, Cuba; New Orleans; Jamaica; and Miami. She has exhibited in Brazil, Boston, and New York, in addition to group exhibitions at Seattle Art Museum, National Art Gallery of the Cayman Islands, and National Gallery of the Bahamas among others. Her work is included in a number of public collections, including The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Museum of Art and Design, New York; Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY; 21c Museum Hotels; and the National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston.

Her work has been featured in recent seasons of the television series, Empire, and published in prestigious newspapers and magazines around the world. She is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Joan Mitchell Prize Foundation Artist Grant, the United States Artists Award, the Aaron Matalon Award from the Jamaica Biennial, a Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica, a Small Axe Magazine and Andy Warhol Commissioned Grant, and the Rex Nettleford Fellowship in Cultural Studies.



Leading the Conversation with Exhibiting Artist Ebony G. Patterson

Colette GaiterFrom her research on artists from the Caribbean and her many visits to the island to study art, design and culture professor Colette Gaiter published the essay on Cuban artists in The African Americas: A Collaborative Project on the African Diaspora in the Cultures of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States. She has also written extensively on former Black Panther artist Emory Douglas and his work with articles published in the monograph Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas, and West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965-1977, among other publications. She continues to write about Douglas’s work including his current international human rights activism, and she wrote the introduction to the second edition of his monograph, published in 2011.

As an artist herself she has exhibited work internationally and in galleries, museums and public institutions in the United States such as the Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston, Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. As a pioneer in new media art since 1982, she presented and exhibited work at SIGGRAPH, ISEA, and other new international new media venues. Her work remains interdisciplinary—from artist books to mixed media sculptural objects and textiles--usually including digital imagery. Putting her interest in socially engaged art into practice, she initiated two community projects in Wilmington, Delaware— Urban Garden Cinema in 2012 and The Beauty Shop Project, currently underway.

Ms. Gaiter received her M.A. in Liberal Studies from Hamline University, St. Paul Minnesota, 1999, and her B.F.A. in Graphic Design from Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburg, PA, 1976.


Access to Gallery Exhibitions and Programming is Free and Open to the Public

The gallery is located at 301 High Street West. Free 2-hour public parking is available in the Mick Drive Parking Garage across the street from the gallery. Admission to the exhibition, gallery talk, and reception is free and open to the public. Regular gallery hours are Monday – Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Thursday - Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Directions can be found on the gallery website. For more information, call 856-256-4521.

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