Arts & Culture

UK Professor's Art Projects Love From Barneys Holiday Window

Artists behind Barneys New York's "#LovePeaceJoyProject" offer a behind-the-scenes look at their participation.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 23, 2016) In the spirit of the season, a Barneys New York holiday window display by Ebony G. Patterson, associate professor of painting at the University of Kentucky School of Art and Visual Studies, shares a message of love for all mankind by giving those unknown to passersby, often the marginalized in our society, a literal voice. The artist's work is on display through Jan. 3, 2017, in New York City.

Described by Barneys New York as "both haunting and joyful," Patterson's holiday window literally asks people to both view it and engage with voices beseeching them to “see me.” The voices are those of 15 native Jamaican adults and children who were recorded and matched to mannequins, who come to life utilizing 3-D projection maps by Christie Digital that illuminate each mannequin's face as it speaks. The mannequins are decked out in ornate, handmade outfits with jewel-encrusted fabrics designed by Patterson and made by Chris Pablo. When the window is quiet, patterns of light camouflage the figures into the display's vibrant background, demonstrating how people blend into society when they are not being heard.

“It has a lot to do with ideas around visibility and invisibility. To love someone, you have to be able to see them. To give compassion, one has to give acknowledgement,” Patterson told the retailer.

Patterson was selected to create the holiday window as part of Barneys New York's "#LovePeaceJoyProject," which also features displays by Elliot Kealoha Blanchard’s studio, We Are Prism; fabric sculptor, dancer and performance artist Nick Cave; painter, sculptor and installation artist Rob Pruitt; the creators of "South Park," Trey Parker and Matt Stone; and Antwerp-based artist collective Studio Job, founded by designers and artists Nynke Tynagel and Job Smeets. Patterson and We Are Prism's windows are on display at Barneys New York Seventh Avenue shop, while the others are found at the retailer's Madison Avenue location.

Patterson told Barneys New York she chose to represent "love" because she found it the most open of the project's three words. “Sometimes when we think about the notion of love, we think it can only happen if we know someone,” she said. “But I think the sense of empathy is also a way of displaying and engaging in the act of love. I’m exploring what it means for people who feel like they aren’t seen asking to be seen and understood through the act of love.”

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Patterson is known for work that reflects marginalized communities in her culture and in society as a whole. Her work has been shown all over the world with her 2016 exhibitions including the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil; a solo show titled "Dead Treez" that exhibited at Boston University Art Galleries and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City; and "Invisible Presence: Bling Memories" at the Atlanta Contemporary. Additionally, her work has appeared on the Fox network’s TV show "Empire,” directed by Lee Daniels.

In 2013, Patterson was named to Huffington Post’s “Top 30 Black Artists Under 40.” That same year, Patterson was the first visual artist to be awarded the Rex Nettleford Fellowship in Cultural Studies, which is presented to a Caribbean resident under the age of 35 who has shown excellence in that field. In 2014, Patterson was awarded the Aaron Matalon Award for the best submission in the 2014 Jamaica Biennal and was selected to exhibit in "Prospect.3" in New Orleans. In 2015, the artist's work was featured in the 12th Havana Biennial.   Patterson has been teaching painting and mixed media at UK since 2007. She holds a bachelor’s degree in painting from the Edna Manley College for Visual and Performing Arts and a master’s degree in printmaking and drawing from the Sam Fox College of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis.

To see more of Patterson’s artwork or to learn more about her, visit the Monique Meloche Gallery website here.

The UK School of Art and Visual Studies, at the UK College of Fine Arts, is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the fields of art studioart history and visual studies, and art education.

photo of Ebony G. Patterson's holiday window at Barneys for "#LovePeaceJoyProject"
photo of Ebony G. Patterson's holiday window at Barneys for "#LovePeaceJoyProject"
photo headshot of Ebony G. Patterson

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