Ebony G. Patterson, ...and babies too... (detail). 2016. Made in collaboration with Temple Contemporary at Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia. Courtesy the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago
Ebony G. Patterson, ...and babies too... (detail). 2016. Made in collaboration with Temple Contemporary at Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia. Courtesy the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago

BALTIMORE, MD (September 13, 2018)—The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) presents an exhibition of dazzling mixed-media works by artist Ebony G. Patterson. On view October 10, 2018–April 7, 2019, Ebony G. Patterson: …for little whispers… features an immersive installation that creates a new context for her glittering jacquard tapestry …and babies too… (2016) in the museum’s Berman Textile Gallery, as well as a sculptural intervention in a nearby gallery in the BMA’s American Wing.

“Ebony’s beguiling artworks draw us in with lush colors and shiny toys that compel us to look, only to reveal pressing social questions that demand our thought and attention,” said BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director Christopher Bedford. “I am pleased to present Ebony’s work at the BMA, especially in dialogue with one of the museum’s great paintings by the early 19th-century American artist Joshua Johnson.”

Patterson creates dazzling tapestries, embellishing their surfaces with an array of found and fabricated materials— glitter, sequins, beads, faux flowers, and costume jewelry. Juxtaposed with colorful toys and overflowing with imagery associated with childhood, they also hint at the presence of violence in children’s lives. Elevated on a custom pine table at the center of the BMA’s Berman Textile Gallery, …and babies too (2016) is accompanied by 18 pairs of hand‐embellished cast glass shoes and toy cars in a plush pink environment ornamented with artificial butterflies and papier-mâché balloons. The installation is a memorial to nine girls and nine boys who were murdered in the artist’s hometown of Kingston, Jamaica, in 2015. Patterson was struck by a startling lack of empathy for these children in media accounts of their deaths. Rather than being acknowledged and mourned, each were in some way held responsible for the crimes perpetrated against them. The work finds important parallels in the rhetoric surrounding recent killings of young black people in the United States. Patterson’s work commemorates these young lives, while asking what it means that society treats some bodies as valuable and others as expendable.

Patterson’s intervention in the BMA’s American Wing examines how toys condition children for adult roles, uneven power relationships, and violent futures. Her sculpture…made for kids… (2016–2018), comprising approximately 150 hand-embellished toy guns, is positioned in dialogue with Joshua Johnson’s painting Charles Herman Stricker Wilmans (c. 1804). The Johnson portrait shows a young boy wearing red shoes posed with a dog and toy gun. In a statement about the work, Patterson asks, “In times like these where there is a need for real conversation around gun control, how do toys help to prime the next generation of those playing with tools of violence?”

Ebony G. Patterson: …for little whispers… is curated by BMA Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art Cecilia Wichmann.

Ebony G. Patterson

Ebony G. Patterson (b. 1981 in Kingston, Jamaica; lives and works in Kingston and Lexington, KY) received her BFA from Edna Manley College, Kingston, Jamaica (2004) and MFA from Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Washington University, St. Louis, MO (2006). Patterson has had solo exhibitions and projects at many U.S. institutions including The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY (2016); Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, GA (2016); and SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA (2016). Patterson’s large-scale solo exhibition, Dead Treez, originated at the Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI (2015) and traveled to Museum of Art and Design, NY (2015); Boston University Art Galleries, MA(2016); and University of Buffalo Art Galleries, NY (2017). Her work was included in the 32nd São Paulo Bienal (2016); the 12th Havana Biennial (2015); Prospect.3 New Orleans (2014), and the Jamaica Biennial (2014). She is a recipient of numerous awards and grants, including United States Artists Award (2018), Tiffany Foundation Grant (2017), Joan Mitchell Foundation Art Grant (2015), The Andy Warhol Foundation Grant (2012); and she was a 2017 Artist-in-Residence at the Rauschenberg Foundation. Patterson’s work is included in a number of public collections, including Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; The Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; Museum of Art and Design, NY; Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY; 21c Museum Hotels; and the National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston. Patterson served on the Artistic Director’s Council for Prospect.4, New Orleans (2017), and will present solo exhibitions at Pérez Art Museum, Miami; and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago, in 2018; and will be an artist in residence at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AK in 2019.

About the Baltimore Museum of Art

Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art—challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Our outstanding collection of more than 97,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and includes the world’s largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of works by contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds. The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture. The BMA is located three miles north of the Inner Harbor, adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, and has a community branch at Lexington Market. General admission is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.

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