Ebony G. Patterson

Ebony G. Patterson's (MFA '06) ...in the waiting...in the weighting... (2021), on view in the James M. Kemper Gallery, is a long-term loan from the collection of Deborah Beckmann and Jacob Kotzubei.

Opulently embellished with a myriad of materials including flowers, beadwork, jewelry, glitter, and varied textiles, Patterson’s large-scale tapestry conjures a lush garden. The garden is a recurring motif in the Jamaican-born artist’s work, existing as a space of both beauty and burial. Her chosen materials also reflect her interest in pattern and decoration, specifically the diverse, international aesthetics of Carnival, evoking histories of vernacular art with an expansive footprint around the world. Within the splendor of vegetation that makes up this work Patterson has planted fragmented body parts and used toys, suggesting loss of life and violence. Three black female figures are centrally positioned within the vegetation in a grouping reminiscent of the mythic Fates who spin the threads of human destiny. Their headless bodies are almost completely hidden in the dense flora, while sculpted vultures covered in black paint and glitter gather at their feet in a semicircle on the gallery floor. Although rapacious in nature, these scavenger birds are an integral force within the greater ecosystem, acting as cleaners who tend to the remains of physical form. Like the garden itself, the birds appear as symbols of transformation and regeneration, bearing witness to the cycle of life, death, and mourning.

Image credit

Ebony G. Patterson (Jamaican, b. 1981) ...in the waiting...in the weighting..., 2021. Mixed media on jacquard-woven photo tapestry, 7 resin readymades with glitter. Collection of Deborah Beckmann and Jacob Kotzubei. Courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.