Ebony G. Patterson: 2020–21 Bill and Stephanie Sick Distinguished Visiting Professor

Ebony G. Patterson: 2020–21 Bill and Stephanie Sick Distinguished Visiting Professor

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Photo: Daniel Moody. Courtesy the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery.

October 6, 2020
Ebony G. Patterson: 2020–21 Bill and Stephanie Sick Distinguished Visiting Professor

Lecture: October 27, 2020, 6:30pm
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
36 South Wabash Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603
United States
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The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) welcomes Ebony G. Patterson as the 2020–21 Bill and Stephanie Sick Distinguished Visiting Professor.

Ebony G. Patterson’s multilayered practice—in painting, sculpture, installation, performance, and video—uses beauty as a tool to address global, social, and political injustices. Most known for her large-scale tapestries and works on paper, each of her pieces begins with an elaborate photoshoot in the artist’s studio. For this, Patterson invites locals from her Kingston neighborhood to pose in opulent sets with specially designed props and costumes that reference pageantry, bringing the everyday to a hyperreal level in a carnivalesque gesture. The subsequent image is then printed on heavy paper or hand-woven jacquard, which Patterson manipulates, embellishes, and reshapes into an almost sculptural composition in which the figures are at once revealed and concealed. This visual fracturing reflects the dissonance at the heart of Patterson’s practice. While the bright, effusive visual cues on the surface of her work suggest vivifying celebration, these signifiers point to the opposite. Patterson seduces the viewer into acknowledging a darker truth lurking ominously beneath the surface. Upon closer inspection, the figures in these embellished paper works are disembodied, un-whole. Their ghostly forms hover amidst a tangle of flora and fauna, plants which themselves might harbor a secret poison. These are gardens memorializing the anonymous, innocent victims of social injustice around the world. Here, bodies are buried and souls are set free.

Patterson received her BFA from Edna Manley College in Kingston, Jamaica, and an MFA from the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Patterson has had solo exhibitions and projects at many US institutions, including Baltimore Museum of Art; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Atlanta Contemporary Art Center; and SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah. Dead Treez, Patterson’s first large-scale institutional solo show, originated at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin (2015) and traveled to Museum of Arts and Design, New York (2015); Boston University Art Galleries (2016); and UB Art Galleries, University at Buffalo, New York (2017). Patterson’s work was included in Open Spaces Kansas City (2018), 32nd São Paulo Biennial: Live Uncertainty (2016); 12th Havana Biennial: Between the Idea and the Experience, Cuba (2015); Prospect.3: Notes for Now, New Orleans (2014); and the Jamaica Biennial (2014), National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston. She was an artist-in-residence at the Rauschenberg Foundation, Captiva Island, Florida (2017), and served on the Artistic Director’s Council for Prospect.4, New Orleans (2017). 

Patterson has received numerous awards, including the Stone and DeGuire Art Award, Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis (2018); United States Artists Award (2018); Tiffany Foundation Grant (2017); Joan Mitchell Foundation Art Grant (2015); and the Andy Warhol Foundation Grant, in conjunction with Small Axe (2012). Patterson’s work is included in a number of public collections, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Museum of Arts and Design, New York; Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia; and the National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston. Her first major survey exhibition, …while the dew is still on the roses…, opened at Pérez Art Museum Miami in 2018, then toured to Speed Art Museum, Louisville, in 2019 and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, in 2020. The survey also provided the opportunity for the first monographic catalogue of her work. Patterson’s solo exhibition …when the cuts erupt…the garden rings…and the warning is a wailing… is currently on view at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis through February 21, 2021. Upcoming solo exhibitions include Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark (2020) and the Athens and Liverpool Biennials (2021). Her work will also be featured in The Long Dream, a group exhibition, which opens in November 2020 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Patterson is represented by Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago. 

As SAIC’s 2020–21 Bill and Stephanie Sick Distinguished Visiting Professor, Patterson will present a public lecture through SAIC’s Visiting Artists Program on October 27 at 6:30pm CT. Details may be found by visiting saic.edu/vap. In addition, Patterson will join SAIC faculty members Jina Valentine and Lisa Vinebaum in team-teaching a course at SAIC in spring 2021. The course will be offered through SAIC’s Printmedia and Fiber and Material Studies departments. 

Established in 2006 by a generous gift from Bill and Stephanie Sick of Winnetka, Illinois, the Bill and Stephanie Sick Distinguished Visiting Professorship enables internationally renowned artists and designers to visit and teach at SAIC. Previous Bill and Stephanie Sick Distinguished Visiting Professors include Bruce Mau, Jaume Plensa, Bill Fontana, Catherine Opie, Andrea Zittel, Theaster Gates, Chris Ware, Ann Hamilton, Laura Owens, Amanda Williams, and most recently, Nayland Blake.

About the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
For more than 150 years, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a leader in educating the world’s most influential artists, designers, and scholars. Located in downtown Chicago with a fine arts graduate program consistently ranking among the top programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, SAIC provides an interdisciplinary approach to art and design as well as world-class resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries, and state-of-the-art facilities. SAIC’s undergraduate, graduate, and post-baccalaureate students have the freedom to take risks and create the bold ideas that transform Chicago and the world—as seen through notable alums and faculty such as Michelle Grabner, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, Jeff Koons, and LeRoy Neiman. For more information, please visit saic.edu.

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