Ebony Patterson’s Complex And Chaotic Installations Question Race And Gender Politics

Ebony G. Patterson - Mixed Media Installation

Ebony G. Patterson - Mixed Media Installation

Ebony G. Patterson - Mixed Media Installation

Ebony G. Patterson constructs immense and elaborate installations filled with everything you can think of. The artist creates intricate work both attractive and kitschy, using mannequins, sunglasses, beads, beer bottles, and lots of gaudy jewelry. Interested in mixed media tapestries, video, and photography, she often incorporates one or all of these different techniques into her work, creating a complexity of objects and imagery. Exploring racial and gender politics, she uses photographs, mannequins, and clothing to make reference to ‘popular black’ culture in her art. Her work, so filled with patterns and flashy objects, is highly satirical, commenting on race, questioning stereotypes often associated with the culture she is representing. Concepts on beauty are also questioned, as the figures in her work are adorned with jewelry, bright colors, and flashy clothing. Although the mannequins appear to be making an attempt to look attractive, they inevitably look over-the-top and ridiculous.

When you see Patterson’s installations, there is an overwhelming sense of color and pattern inviting you to examine every last detail of the chaotic mass of objects. You get lost in a see of mismatched clothing and clashing patterns, all shown like a department store display. Transforming her mannequins into striking objects participating in her art, their individual genders are often blurred, pointing out pre-conceived notions concerning the masculine and feminine. Her installations not only have mannequins, but also still humans that appear to be inanimate until they spring to life, turning her installation into a performance piece. This talented Chicago-based artist creates confrontational work that, due to content and appearance, is not easily ignored

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Heather Cassils And Three Other Artists Present Alternative Narratives Of Female Sexuality And Identity

Heather Cassils

Heather Cassils

Laura Aguilar

Laura Aguilar

Aimee Hertog

Aimee Hertog

In the digital age and generation of the selfie, a spiraling and often disorienting importance placed on consumerism and commodities permeates even the most remote of regions. Through the billboard jungles and beehive of mass media, images relentlessly promoting youth and sexuality haphazardly depict ideals of femininity. Creating a wormhole of inadequacies, the female form has found itself in a constant tug-of-war in either defending its natural state or scrambling to correct propagated notions of aesthetic shortcomings. As Barbara Kruger famously stated on one of her notorious gelatin silver prints from the 1980’s, “You Are Not Yourself”.

The following artists featured turn these preconceived notions on their head while reconstructing a refreshing narrative of female sexuality and identity. Featured artists include  Laura Aguilar, Aimee Hertog, Heather Cassils, and Marina Santana.

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JJ Levine’s Photos Of One Person As Two Genders Redefine Gender Roles

From Alone Time, 2007

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From Alone Time, 2007

From Alone Time, 2007

In the dawn of an era where Facebook has added a customizable option with about 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender, and an oscar nominated film about AIDS and a famous male, straight musician playing a transgender role (aka Dallas Buyers Club), we are bound to see more projects like JJ Levine‘s in the mainstream media.

The Montreal based photographer, an avid cataloguer of trans and queer communities since early 2000’s, creates Alone Time, a series of photographs in which he recreates typical domestic environments that play around with the idea of gender stereotypes. For this project he uses one model only; the one model is to play both the male and female characters in the image. The result, Levine said, “challenges the normative idea that gender presentation is stable or constant. Rather, gender expression can be fluid and multiple.”

“work is emerging at a moment when people are starting to talk more about gender and sexuality in the public sphere, which allows more space for queer cultural production and representation in the mainstream.”The thought-provoking work gives us the chance to become vulnerable and empathetic towards

The thought-provoking work not only give us, the viewer (of any gender,) the possibility to become vulnerable and empathetic, but also the ability to imagine ourselves in this specific situation. What would it be like to be a member of the opposite sexes? Do I, in anyway, resemble some of all the male/female/transgender characteristics?

Levine, a trans and queer man, uses his sexuality, gender and past experiences in his art in order to reach out to those who are not necessarily familiar with the subject. He intends to expand awareness through creating work that is familiar to all, and not just one gender. He notes that his images “talk about and celebrate marginality from a place of familiarity and self-exploration as opposed to voyeurism.” (via Slate)

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