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, 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.
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.
Citing 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…”.
Using 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.
All 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.
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.
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.