The garden has figured as a recurring motif throughout Ebony G. Patterson’s practice. For her CAM exhibition, …when the cuts erupt…the garden rings…and the warning is a wailing…, she juxtaposes two new works: an immersive installation in the Front Gallery and a monumental, multilayered paper collage extending from CAM’s 60-foot-long Project Wall. The new works represent Patterson’s expansion into a new phase of her practice, emerging from the foundation of her previous garden-themed constructions. The garden serves as a “postcolonial” symbol of a past that is never fully buried and barely visible. Her immersive gardens grow out of a complex entanglement of race, gender, class, and violence. “Beauty, for me, is a tool of seduction,” the artist has said, “a trap.” The coexistence of beauty and horror in Patterson’s environments parallel the abundant plant-life she conjures through an excess of embellished materials. The artist titles her Project Wall piece, …and the dew cracks the earth, in five acts of lamentation…between the cuts…beneath the leaves…below the soil…. To construct the work, Patterson shreds and tears paper by hand, damaging the material in the process of making new forms, parallel to the act of gardening when living things are shred, torn, and cut. Her gardens are never far from notions of violence, of memorial, of blood and tears.
Ebony G. Patterson: …when the cuts erupt…the garden rings…and the warning is a wailing… is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Chief Curator.
The exhibition tours to the Institute of Contemporary Art San José (March 20–September 5, 2021).
Ebony G. Patterson (b. 1981 in Kingston, Jamaica; lives and works in Kingston and Chicago, IL) received the prestigious Stone & DeGuire Contemporary Art Award from her alma mater, Washington University in St. Louis, in 2018. Patterson’s solo exhibitions and projects have been shown at many U.S. institutions including the Baltimore Museum of Art (2019), and The Studio Museum in Harlem (2016). Her touring exhibition …while the dew is still on the roses… premiered at Pérez Art Museum Miami (2018–19); traveled to Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY (2019); and opens on February 27, 2020 at Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, NC. Upcoming exhibitions include biennials in Liverpool and Athens, and her first solo European exhibition at Kunsthal Aarhus in Denmark, all in 2020. Patterson received a United States Artists Fellowship in 2018, and is the resident artist at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans in the fall of 2020. Prior to receiving her MFA at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis (2006), Patterson attended the Edna Manley College, in Kingston, Jamaica, receiving a BFA in painting (2004).