By Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times
Her art can be seen on the hit show Empire on the Fox Network and in a number of museums across the country including the Birmingham Museum of Art Third Space gallery.
Ebony G. Patterson, an internationally recognized artist, recently came to Birmingham to talk about her work, as part of Chapter 02, a conversation between the artist and Emily Hanna, the BMA’s Curator of the Arts of Africa and the Americas. Chapter 02 is part of the contemporary art exhibition, Third Space.
Patterson is known for her vibrant, highly adorned images and objects intended to attract viewers to take a closer look. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, her work studies Jamaican culture and highlights the under-reported violence experienced by those on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder.
“A lot of my work explores the ideas behind visibility and invisibility,” said Patterson, who is also an associate professor at the University of Kentucky.
Patterson’s piece at the BMA is Among the Weeds, Plants, and Peacock Feathers.
“In the work is a lavish landscape,” she said. “But there is something that has gone awry that is hidden within the landscape, there is a figure that remains lifeless, dead.”
Colorism is also prominent in some of her art.
“Skin lightening was increasingly popular, particularly among the working class,” she said. “When you flip through any Ebony magazine in the 60s, you see skin lightening cream. Next to beauty products there would be skin lightening creams.
“We’re still dealing with the relics of that in Jamaica and America,” she added. “I’m interested in how skin lightening, while it has health complications and is taboo, the reasons someone would do that. It’s almost as if one is erasing their skin so one can become present. I see skin bleaching in the same way as bling. In the same way the jewelry creates light, the lightening of one’s skin also creates light.”
Patterson’s art will be on exhibit in the museum through January 2019.