Dangerous terrariums

 Ebony Patterson Poster

DEAD TREEZ, the work of Ebony G. Patterson, is on view at the MAD Museum  (Museum of Art and Design) at Columbus Circle in NYC.  I visited this show in December and was fascinated by the inventive and myriad use of everyday textiles and objects to explore visibility in terms of gender, race, class and the media.

 Dead TReez

DEAD TREEZ, a multi-media installation, fills two galleries of the museum.  The juxtaposition of textiles, costume jewelry, and hand-crocheted shapes reflecting dance hall fashion and culture in post colonial Jamaica was mesmerizing. However, it was her installation in the Tiffany Jewelry Gallery at MAD that really captured my attention.

 MAD Jewelry cases MAD Tiffany Gallery

The Tiffany Jewelry Gallery is a small space devoted to MAD’s permanent collection of jewelry along with constantly changing exhibits staged in the large lit cases.  Below each case are readily-available drawers which can be opened to see the collection.  When I first visited this space, the cases were filled with Madeline Albright’s Brooch Collection.

 Alnwick Castle Poison Garden Alnwick Castle Poison Garden GatesCiting the Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle ( of Harry Potter fame located on the north east coast of England) as her inspiration, Ms Patterson has created brilliant ‘terrariums’ in the cases in an exhibit called “…buried again to keep on growing…”.

MAD Jewelry Terrarium

 Hydrangea and butterflyUsing patterned textiles and silk and plastic flowers in vibrant colors, this exhibit explores “a garden-like environment of poisonous plants” among which pieces of MAD’s contemporary jewelry are hidden and revealed.

 MAD boot and beaded flower

MAd Brocade torso

 MAD terrarium with flowers and figureAll is not sweetness and light in this particular set of gardens, however.  Tucked among the dangerous plants and bright bling are mysterious camouflaged body parts which signal the violence that haunts marginalized communities.  Hidden in plain sight…as it were.

MAD silk and paper flora and fauna

 Mad headcovering

MAD Anthurium and calla

The social message is achieved with patterned textiles and with such a light touch that one is captivated by the lush richness of the tropical garden design before discovering its social depths.  A gallery description lists the poisonous plants: anthurium, bird-of-paradise, calla lily, daffodils, daphne, delphinium, euphorbia, foxglove, gloriosa lily, heliconia, hydrangea, iris, lily of the valley, philodendron, poppy, torch ginger, tulip and wisteria.

 MAD bright tights

This exhibit is part of a series POV in the Tiffany Gallery in which an artist views MAD Museum’s permanent collection of jewelry through the lens of their unique vision.  Ms. Patterson has created a vibrant, mysterious garden landscape.


About Susan

Susan Detjens is a former landscape painter, she lectures, demonstrates and runs workshops on floral design for museums, horticultural organizations and garden clubs across the US.
This entry was posted in Art and Flowers, MAD Museum and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Dangerous terrariums

  1. Alexandra says:

    Very creepy cool!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.