Ebony G. Patterson’s multi-layered works are willfully superficial. The Jamaican artist weaves together a mélange of torn papers, tassels, appliqués, and feathered butterflies to create striking gardens replete with glitter and vibrant hues. “In many ways, I think of the work as the flower and the audience as the bees,” Patterson told Nasher Museum. “The bee is first attracted to the flower because of its color, but it’s not until you start peeling back the layers that you understand what’s happening with the nectar.”
Often set against wallpaper of her own design, Patterson’s mixed-media tapestries and smaller works are immersive and captivating, inviting study of both individual elements and how they interact. Hidden beneath the obvious allure of flora and fauna, though, are more complex, sinister messages of identity, violence, and death. Likened to “secret poisons,” these inferences relate to the anguish and perpetual mourning many women feel, and in her sprawling tapestry titled “the wailing…guides us home…and there is a bellying on the land…,” for example, feminine hands and limbs attempt to grasp for something beyond the entangled mass of jacquard and beads. “Each form bravely assumes a posture of distress, the onerous emotional and physical labor required to conduct acts of devotion, the soul care that grants permission to confront historic and inherited traumas,” a statement says.
Patterson lives and works between Kingston, Jamaica, and Chicago, and she’s included in multiple upcoming shows: What is Left Unspoken, Love opening on March 25 at the High Museum in Atlanta, a solo exhibition at Hales Gallery running from May 5 to June 18, and this November, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Until then, you can explore more of her elaborate works at moniquemeloche, where she’s represented.
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What began as an early pandemic project designed to use up scrap fabric has resulted in an ingeniously designed field of color and geometries. “Tiny Bubbles” is a kaleidoscopic work by Marla Varner of Penny Lane Quilts in Sequim, Washington, that’s comprised of hundreds of curved pieces stitched into an abstract, variegated pattern of tiny rounds nestling into larger forms.
In total, the sewn work utilizes 1,320 individual pieces and took more than a year to complete. “Quilted during the pandemic, these tiny bubbles kept me occupied while isolated in my own small bubble. All of the quarter circles were traced from templates, cut with scissors, and pieced by hand. The curved units were then assembled by machine,” she says.
Varner will show “Tiny Bubbles” and the colorfully meandering patchwork titled “Crevices” at QuiltCon 2022 in Phoenix next month. In addition to those pieces, she’s also been working on a temperature quilt and smaller functional goods like potholders, which you can see below. For more on her meticulous process, head to Instagram and her site. (via Kottke)
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What began as a simple appreciation of fabrics printed with vibrant geometries and hypnotic motifs has morphed into a stunning celebration of African culture. Thandiwe Muriu’s ongoing Camo series cloaks models in arresting garments that disguise them in textile surroundings, leaving just their hands and faces visible. “When I source fabrics, I look for something that I can look at and it almost feels alive,” she says. “Something bold, slightly confusing on the eyes, and less traditional. In my images, the fabric acts as the backdrop that I can celebrate my culture on. It is a bright, welcoming canvas that I can highlight what I love about my fellow Kenyan people.”
From the printed clothing to the subject’s accessories and hairstyles, each image is layered with references to the Nairobi-based photographer’s daily life and a sense of resourcefulness that permeates the local culture. Common items like bottle tops, mosquito coils, bicycle gears, straws, and cleaning brushes become elaborate eyewear or decorative additions to historical “architectural hairstyles that are being forgotten,” she tells Colossal. “Our natural hairstyles as Africans/Kenyans are one of the unique things about our beauty culture that I wouldn’t want to see lost, so I incorporate it into my work to spark conversation around traditional hairstyles and how we can wear them today.”
Muriu, who works in commercial advertising by day, shares that Camo is an ironic exploration into the relationship between personal and collective identities. The visually striking portraits are “commentary on how as individuals, we can lose ourselves to the expectations culture has on us, yet there are such unique and beautiful things about every individual,” Muriu says. “I wanted to celebrate everything I had struggled with in my own beauty journey—my hair, my skin, and my identity as a modern woman in a traditional culture.”
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Bound with loose threads and inscribed with sinuous lines that crawl across the page, the textile works created by Tennessee-based artist Rima Day evoke the Japanese good luck charms called sennibari. Translating to “thousand person stitches,” the Japanese amulet was developed during war times when women would ask friends, family, and even strangers to make a knot on a piece of fabric, which was then gifted to a soldier for protection. Some of the collectively made works depicted “animals such as a tiger, meaningful kanji, a picture of the Japanese imperial flag, or just geometrical patterns,” the artist tells Colossal, and often were stitched into vests or sashes so they could be worn.
In Day’s iterations, the loose threads hang from letters and books with translucent pages, two objects emblematic of communication and knowledge sharing, with winding systems puncturing their surfaces. “Red thread symbolizes human connection in Japan,” she says. “My fascination with the similarity between nature and the human body manifested in matrixes that resemble blood vessels, root systems, and tree vines.”
Day’s work is currently on view as part of a group craft exhibition at Tennessee State Museum. She shares a variety of her fiber-based pieces on Instagram and sells stitched cyanotype prints and other sculptural objects on Etsy. You also might enjoy the sprawling words of Janaina Mello Landini. (via Lustik)
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The quirky troupe of characters crafted by Kyiv-based doll designer Lidiya Marinchuk sport a wide range of emotions from surprised three-eyed monsters and gloomy rain clouds to sly foxes in polka-dotted socks. Sometimes leaving them as soft, plush creatures and others painting their bodies to create sculptural forms, Marinchuk instills each with a dose of whimsy and play. You can find more of the wildly emotional cast on Behance, and shop available pieces on Etsy.
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Textured Patchworks of Sequins, Plastic Beads, and Oil Paint Comprise Trevon Latin's Dazzling Portraits
Through a patchwork of glitzy sequins and humble cottons, New York-based artist Trevon Latin renders a fantastical world fit for an equally nuanced ensemble of characters. His mixed-media portraits and stuffed sculptures, which uniquely contrast color, texture, and medium in striking collaged pieces, draw their founding characteristics from queer nightlife, virtual reality, and mythology.
Having completed an MFA in painting and printmaking at Yale in 2020, Latin expands on his classical training by utilizing various found materials, including swatches of patterned fabric, multi-color beads, plastic barrettes, and sequins. His portraits center on spliced, abstracted figures stretched on a round frame or couples mid-embrace, with lush, rolling fields occupying the foreground. These green expanses evoke the landscapes of southeastern Texas, which the Houston-born artist and performer knows well, and offer a contrast to the otherwise ostentatious subjects.
The plush sculptures highlight the more mythical qualities of Latin’s practice, portraying shimmering hybrid characters elevated on pedestals. His 2021 work “I Break Too Easily” is similarly fantastical, featuring an aqua 3D-printed mask with long beaded tendrils hanging from its mouth. Whether depicted on canvas or as a fully-formed figure, each of the works is a flamboyant and elaborate embodiment of Shaturqua Relentless, a non-binary character the artist has performed in recent years. The resulting works reveal an inherent intimacy and idiosyncrasy, marking an entry point into an evolving narrative.
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Editor's Picks: Art
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