Detail of ...they were discovering things and finding ways to understand... (...when they grow up...), 2016

Ebony G. Patterson
1981, Kingston, Jamaica. Lives in Kingston and Lexington, Kentucky, USA

Ebony G. Patterson draws from references in painting to compose scenes and portraits that relate to street culture and the violent contexts of communities in Kingston, Jamaica. Transiting through various techniques, the artist uses photography as the first step in developing her compositions. She transforms the images into tapestries, which receive layers of fabrics and ornaments creating collages in mixed media. The large panels resulting from this process explore the excess of materials, sparkle, and color as a way to shed light on the need for setting oneself apart amid consumer goods and opulence, which is so closely linked to mechanisms of social oppression. Despite the colored surfaces, the scenes depict – in an almost mimetic manner – bodies lying on the ground, as well as casual moments of social interaction on the street. The set of panels presented in the 32nd Bienal is an attempt to draw parallels between the socio-cultural contexts of Brazil and Jamaica. As a reaction to the high murder rates of black children and youths in both countries, Patterson portrays a childhood that has potential for creating and transforming, but that at the same time suffers in the face of violent and exclusionary systems.