I must start off by congratulating Ms. Ebony G. Patterson on her latest accomplishment. She has been granted The Rex Nettleford Fellowship in Cultural Studies. All the best Ebony! I look forward to seeing how your work with evolve over the coming years.
If you are just joining me. I've been featuring one of Jamaica's well noted, young visual artists, Ebony G. Patterson. Catch up her previous features here:
The vivacious and opinionated artist shared some details with me, as I dug a little deeper into her life and the mind behind the works.
Ebony, would you say you've found your calling?
It found me :). I mean if you think about it the conditions were right and ripe. Alot of people did think that I would have gone into performing. But people also knew that I loved the Visual Arts. I have always been a creative individual, so it was inevitable. Can you see me in a bank, in a suit????? Jeans for life! She also forgot to say converse shoes and gladiator slippers.
So you were featured as one of the speakers for TEDx Irie last April. That’s a big deal! Congratulations! What went through your mind initially when you got the news?
Thanks (blush***)! I thought, "MEEEEEEEEEE??????? Oh dear, I have to think about this." Then I said to myself, "are you crazy?! You can do this!" And so I nervously did! I was really terrified until I got up there.
In your TEDx presentation you ended with a rhetorical, 'where’s Ebony now?' So you’ve transcended to using photographical imagery for your work, will you ever go back to painting?
I am always painting! I just had a whole show of drawing in Chicago in March at the Monique Meloche Gallery. I use photography as a tool not a medium. I have not reverenced to it materially, so I treat it in the same way I would a painting, adding physical layers. But as far as I am concerned I see those as painting ... because the language and the materiality is the same.
Things have a more 'juvenile' approach in Ebony's latest work in progress, similar to that of The Fambily Series. This time she focuses on gangsta babies and kids, with their bleached out faces, bad ass outfits, toy guns with balloons and teddy bears, of course.
Works not yet edited.
|From left (back): Nzingha, Aziza, Zjadaine, Malachi, Jake|
From left (front): Kaleb, Nasir, Daniel
|Ebony instructs one of her lil' juveniles, Zjadaine, in her latest project, while Marvin Bartley shoots (Aug. 2011)|
How many exhibitions have you been a part of to date?
Oh Dear Chevy! 'Whole heap.' Hmm, a number ... 40 or more, not including solos. I have been showing since Undergrad.
Out of the many exhibitions, which is the most memorable?
I would have to say my first major museum show, Infinite Islands, at the Brooklyn museum 2007. It was the first survey of contemporary Caribbean art by a major museum. I was just a few months out of Grad school. Some people dont even get that kind of acknowledgement during their whole life as artist; and to get that at such an early point in my career is tremendous.
What would be your greatest accomplishment to date and why?
Definitely The Rex Nettleford Fellowship. It's great that they wanted to support my project.
Do you consider yourself successful? Is this where you imagined you would be? Or are you surprised and have you a long way to go?
Hmm I think given where I am, I have aquired much success. But I wouldn't say I am where I want to be yet. Given where I am and how my career has developed things have been moving quite steadily. But when I was a student at Edna Manley College I wasn't concerned about being a successful artist. I just wanted to make and share my work. As I have matured, I've maintained that in order to be where I am.
I'm where I want to be and that is important; but I am hungry for more and that keeps me focused and driven. Am I surprised? Sometimes, but its not because I didn't believe I had what it took. I am just as amazed at the amazing journey that what I love has taken me on.
Outside of the sensationalism of dancehall and how it essentially influences the outward appearances of men in that realm, are there any topics that have intrigued you now that you will explore in the future?
Hmm, I am always interested in issues of gender and ideas about identity; the politics of identity; and beauty, but these are things that I have always been dealing with even before the boys came into the picture. I am not sure if I am so concerned about the future. The work always takes me on a logical course, so the work will take me where ever we need to go.
Do you sense a promise in the art community from the younger upcoming artists?
DEFINITELY. There is always promise. Jamaica has an institution that pumps them out every year. However the larger question is, what happens to the promise? And, of course, just like all students anywhere in the world, sometimes what you study in school is not the field you go into. However, for the few that really want to make it work and keep it going, it takes real commitment, willingness and inventiveness to survive. All of those take real work; and if you are not willing to do that then you can get swallowed up real quick! I think the National Biennials and Young Talent V exhibitions last summer at The National Gallery of Jamaica are great testaments to the fact that we have much potential. As a community we have always known that we were never short of this.
What direction do you think fine art in Jamaica is approaching and why?
We are being alot more open, materially, but there has always been some sense of openness from the gerneration before with people Like Pertrona Morrison and Omari Ra. But I think some of the dialogues are changing. We are beginning to reflect on the issues of our generation, which is what art is suppose to do—to reflect on the concerns of our own time.
While the discussions about identity are still ongoing, we now have the examination and deconstruction of an art historical discourse going with the work of young artists, who are the so-called western cannon of art making as a way to discuss social and racial issues. We also have artists who are discussing issues about gender, politics of space and popular culture, violence. These, I think, are more current dialogues that are being added to the ongoing conversation from the previous generation of artists.
What’s next in the agenda for you?
Well, I have a major solo project with the National Gallery of Bermuda in 2012 and another solo project in Martinique.
Now that we’ve handled all the serious questions let’s get to the more fun stuff...
What’s your favourite way to pass the time?
I love dancing! And hanging out with friends, talking about nothing, and going to the burger drive-thru for a quick long bite, round about midnightish.
What can’t you leave the house without?
SUNGLASSES, EARRINGS, AND ALL THE JEWELLERY!!!!!!! I like that people think I am badass sometimes. I think its funny.
Is there anything that gets under your skin?
Men in sagging pants!
Anything extra you want to share with my readers and followers?
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Don't forget to catch up on what you've missed right HERE: