Ebony G. Patterson is a Jamaican artist born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1981. She has taught in the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts, the Sam Fox College of Design & Visual at Washington University in St. Louis. She has taught at the University of Virginia and is currently an Assistant Professor in Painting at the University of Kentucky She has shown her artwork in numerous solo and private exhibitions, such as Infinite Island: Contemporary Caribbean Art, Brooklyn Museum, (2007). National Biennial, National Gallery of Jamaica,(2006,2008,2010),Ghetto Biennale , Port-au-Prince, Haiti,Rockstone and Bootheel, Real Artways, (2010) Wrestling With the Image, Museum of the Americas,(2011)
Patterson’s work revolves around questions of identity and the body, and takes the form of mixed media paintings, drawings and collages, most of them on paper. Photography, found objects, installation and performance have recently become increasingly important in her practice. Early work was primarily concerned with the female body as object. Her Venus Investigations objectified the female torso, headless and anonymous, and explored the relationship between the ample-bodied "Venus" or female goddess images of prehistoric times and contemporary female self-images and beauty ideals. Subsequent works more provocatively focused on the vagina as an object and, by implication, examined the taboos that surround this body part and its functions within Jamaican culture. This also led to 3-dimensional constructions made from intimate female articles such as sanitary napkins and tampons and more abstracted and surreal hybrid organic forms that appeared in her large paper collages of 2007. This early body of work has a sober and at times even majestic visual beauty which as she puts it, reference "beauty through the use of the grotesque but visceral, confrontational and deconstructed."
Gangstas for Life
One of Patterson's most recognized body of work, is a series entitled "Gangstas for Life," which explores conceptions of masculinity within Dancehall culture. In this series, the artist specifically explores skin bleaching as a means of marking and transformation, not as an act of racial self-loathing. Additionally the series "seeks to examine the dichotomy between Jamaican stereotypical ideologies of homosexual practices and its parallels within dancehall culture." Red floral and fish motifs throughout the series serve to represent homosexuality within a predominantly homophobic culture. Pattersons images imaginatively recreate portraits of young black males who bleach their skin, pluck their eyebrows and wear 'bling' jewellery to enhance their gangsta status. Patterson finds beauty in their psychic violence glamorizing them with glittered halos and luscious lipstick. The artist explores perceptions of beauty as grotesque within the series, and her portrayal of the subjects' cracked, bleeding and oozing skins.
Awards and Scholarships
2011 Rex Nettleford Fellowship in Cultural Studies, Awarded by The Rhodes Trust
Young Alumni award of Distinction, Washington University in St. Louis,MO
2008 Vermont Studio Center Artist Fellowship
2006 Prime Minister’s Youth Awards for Excellence, in Art and Culture (Jamaica) -the highest award a young person can receive in Arts and Culture in Jamaica Peter Marcus Award for Printmaking (Washington University) Nominated for the Joan Mitchell Fellowship for Painters,(Washington University) Emerson Visiting Critics and Curators Series, Museum of Contemporary Art, (St. Louis, MO) selected from a pool of over seventy artists to be visited by Curator Ingrid Schaffener
2005 Super Plus Under 40 Artist of the Year (Jamaica) Vicky Award Washington University, Printmaking Department
2004 William Danforth Fellowship (Washington University) Nancy Glanstien Scholarship for Graduate Students (Washington University) Diploma (4 years) First Class Honors (lower), Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts Albert Huie Award for Outstanding Student in Painting (Edna Manley College)
2003 Order of French Merit Scholarship to the Pont -Aven School of Contemporary Enid Driscoll Spalleti Memorial Award (ROSL)
2002 Recipient of Two Bronze Medals from the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission Fine Arts Competition Recipient of the Royal Over-Seas League Travel Scholarship (only recipient from the Caribbean) Brian Morgan Scholarship (Edna Manley College)
2001 Coca –Cola Jamaica Bursary Merit Award from the Jamaica Cultural Development Fine Arts Competition