Staying Power – Ebony G. Patterson, She Is

Ebony G. Patterson
(Born 1981, Kingston, Jamaica; based in Kingston and Chicago)
Multidisciplinary artist
@ebonygpatterson @moniquemeloche
She Is…
Digital photographs on vinyl and aluminum frames

Ebony G. Patterson creates imaginative and multilayered installations, paintings, sculptures, and scenes that channel beauty as tools for reflection and resistance. Her projects weave together narratives of life and loss while commanding attention through spectacular displays of rich textures, hand-crafted details, and bright colors that bear witness to the social forces of violence and injustice. For Staying Power, Patterson sought to honor “the labor of women in relation to the wailing and the land.” After a virtual site visit in Summer 2020 that included conversations with neighborhood collaborators, Patterson proposed a vision for She Is…, a series of large-scale works that could adorn the facades and walls of buildings throughout the Village’s campus parks, each with a call to the under-acknowledged labor of women in this neighborhood and others, especially in acts of care, protest, and mourning. Each of the four scenes created by the artist includes headless, monumental figures embedded in dreamlike and embellished gardens, punctuated with a poetic phrase and call to acknowledgment: “She is the memory,” “She is the nourishment,” “She is the soil,” and “She is the mourning.” As Patterson adds, “Here we come to pay homage but to also acknowledge the continued labor in response to violence, but through this labor these women also enact promise.”

Artist Statement

I have been thinking about the labor of women in relation to the wailing and the land. I have been thinking about the labor of Black women in working-class communities and their centrality. What does it mean to think of the communal space as liminal, as domestic extensions or to think of the land as feminine. A site from which we came, where we nourish, and where we return. With an ongoing interest in exploring the ways disenfranchised peoples use language, the metaphor of dress and the garden as a tool and site of power, beauty, mourning, burial, renewal, protest, and dignity.

In thinking about​ Staying Power,​ I am particularly interested in creating four monumental photo banners that acknowledge the role and labor of women in the acts of mourning. Our entry into the world is signaled by the wailing of a woman and our exit is signaled through a wailing again. Both entry and exit function as warnings to the world. Through this work I seek to create large-scale vinyl banners that will cover the façade of buildings. In each of these images we bare/bear witness to women nestled in a garden space. Across these images sit declarations and the anchoring of women’s bodies, in the act of labor in the mourning of violence, and the labor of renewal.

In making these images at this scale, I am also hoping to collapse the façade of the building and open a field of witnessing and honoring these women at their feet. Here we come to pay homage but to also acknowledge the continued labor in response to violence, but through this labor these women also enact promise.

–Ebony G. Patterson

Artist Bio 

Ebony G. Patterson received a BFA from Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Kingston, and an MFA from Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University, Saint Louis. She has had solo exhibitions and projects at the Baltimore Museum of Art (2019), Studio Museum in Harlem (2016), Atlanta Center for Contemporary Art (2016), and SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah (2016). Dead Treez, Patterson’s first large-scale institutional solo show, originated at the Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin (2015) and traveled to the Museum of Arts and Design in New York (2015), Boston University Art Galleries (2016), and UB Art Galleries, University at Buffalo (2017). Patterson’s work was included in Open Spaces Kansas City (2018), 32nd São Paulo Bienal: Live Uncertainty (2016); 12th Havana Biennial: Between the Idea and the Experience (2015); Prospect.3: Notes for Now, New Orleans (2014); and Jamaica Biennial, National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston (2014). She was an artist-in-residence at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Captiva Island, Florida (2017) and served on the Artistic Director’s Council for Prospect.4, New Orleans (2017). Patterson has received numerous awards, including the Stone and DeGuire Contemporary Art Award, Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University, Saint Louis (2018); United States Artists Award (2018); Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant (2017); Joan Mitchell Foundation Art Grant (2015); and Andy Warhol Foundation Grant, in conjunction with Small Axe (2012).

Patterson’s work is included in a number of public collections including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Museum of Arts and Design, New York; Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; Speed Art Museum, Louisville; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston; Los Angeles County Art Museum; and Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, among others. Her first major survey …while the dew is still on the roses… opened at Pérez Art Museum Miami in 2018, then toured to Speed Art Museum in 2019, and the Nasher Museum of Art in 2020. Current and upcoming solo exhibitions include the Institute of Contemporary Art, San José (2021) (travelled consistency from above from the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, MO), Liverpool Biennial (2021), Athens Biennial (2021), and Bronx Museum (2022). Patterson is represented by Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago and Hales Gallery, London/New York.


Artwork: Ebony G. Patterson
Fabrication and installation: ASI
Special thanks to Monique Meloche, Evan Boris, and Monique “Mogi” Gilpin

Images courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery