Having been to Jamaica quite a few times (6 times in 5 years, to be exact), I guess you can say I have a soft spot for this small sunny island the size of Connecticut. I have to admit that during our first trip we didn’t to go outside of the resort property (not sure why), however as time passed, we fell in love with the friendly staff, musicians and the regulars walking up and down the beach, and we started venturing out more and more to get closer to the local culture and traditions. So, whenever I hear something about Jamaica, I feel like I am hearing about an old friend, someone I really care about. This is why I was very moved by work of a Jamaican-born Ebony G. Patterson, an artist whose first solo New York exhibit is on display right now at the Museum of Art & Design until April 3rd.
I highly recommend checking out Ebony’s work, and in just a few words would like to share my experience of seeing her creations first hand. For one of the segments of the Dead Treez exhibit, Ebony assembled amazing, colorful, huge size tapestries that at first glance look like beautiful valleys of flowers, however after studying further, a sad picture emerges – the viewer notices outlines of bodies, dead bodies… The artist takes the figures from photographs of murder victims found through social media and applies the shape of the body onto the base of the tapestry. Then she adds colorful clumps of flowers, crochet leaves, layers of woven gems, some household items, toys and pieces of clothing to create a layered visual experience. The results are stunning, workmanship is amazing – you can spend hours and hours looking at the pieces and keep discovering new details…
“The audience is seduced by all of the prettiness,” Patterson said of her new work. But once we dig through the foliage and bright hues that the artist initially applies, we unearth “the underreported and unacknowledged brutality experienced by those on the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder,” according to the press release.
I left the exhibit with a heart full of painful beauty. Trust me, this is some heavy food for thought.