By Katy Cowan
Dead Treez was the first solo show by artist Ebony G. Patterson at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design (MAD). Incorporating mixed-media installations and jacquard photo tapestries, Patterson explores visibility, in terms of class, gender, race and the media. Her highly adorned, almost illuminated images and objects are intended to attract and seduce the viewers, challenging them to look closer.
For Dead Treez, Patterson assembled five eye-popping tapestries and a life-size figural tableau of ten male mannequins, dressed in a kaleidoscopic mix of floral fabrics. Meant to present a complex vision of masculinity, the installation is a meditation on dancehall fashion and culture, regarded as a celebration of the disenfranchised in postcolonial Jamaica. Her tapestries depict murder victims, as sourced through social media, embellished to seduce viewers into witnessing the underreported brutality experienced by those on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder.
Extending themes from Dead Treez, the artist turns the gallery into a garden-like environment of poisonous plants with three scenarios, in which bodies sheathed in patterned fabrics have succumbed to violence often endemic to marginalised communities. Throughout the museum cases, works of jewellery selected from MAD’s permanent collection are positioned to appear as though the pieces once belonged to the bodies that are disappearing in the underbrush.
Via MAD | All images by Butcher Walsh © Museum of Arts and Design