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Ebony G. Patterson she is land...she is the mourning...

Brittney Leeanne Williams How Far Between and Back


Ebony G. Patterson she is land...she is the mourning...

Brittney Leeanne Williams How Far Between and Back

April 24 - June 12, 2021

Edited by Staci Boris Photographed by Robert Chase Heishman

This catalogue was published on the occasion of the first solo exhibition by Brittney Leeanne Williams, and the fifth solo exhibition by Ebony G. Patterson at Monique Meloche Gallery.

©2021


Table of Contents Introduction

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Ebony G. Patterson Installation Views

14

Ebony G. Patterson Artworks

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Artists in Conversation

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Brittney Leeanne Williams Installation Views

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Brittney Leeanne Williams Artworks

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Biographies

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Introduction


she is land... she is soil... she is home... she is nourishment... she is time... she is the wailing... she is the memory... she is the mourning... Emerging from the framework of her immersive post-colonial garden-like installations, Ebony G. Patterson’s recent practice further considers the rich, expansive possibilities of the garden, a space for life and death, a complex entanglement of race, gender, class, and violence. Opulently embellished with a myriad of materials such as glitter, beading, and varied textiles, these new works hold images of figures in graceful sorrow, utilizing gestures of mourning as a lens through which to consider the measurement of women, vehicles weighted with the obligation not just to care for those lives that have been lost, but to demonstrate and lead others in the act of lamentation. The female form constitutes the site for life, nourishment, first love, and joy, while also the impulse for grieving. 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. These complex gardens offer a space for beauty, burial, transformation, and conservation. There is a ubiquitous and undeniable heaviness in the materiality, the cumbersome burden bestowed on those who mourn echoes throughout the furrows of patterning and adornment. Figures are hauntingly woven into the landscapes, disappearing within the lush flora of each tangled tableau. Their headless torsos, decorated in luxurious and glistening wares, are positioned in various gestures of anguish. Disembodied limbs assume their own forms of silhouetted expression throughout the landscape; while those seldom few that remain animate evoke a suggestion of skin, of a life prior, a reminder of the violence inflicted upon the invisible, eternally reverberating through those figures who are left behind to grieve. Large embellished sculpted vultures gaze keenly from the floor upon the mourning figures on the wall. While rapacious in nature, there is much more to their scavenge; they’re integral forces within the greater stratification, they’re cleaners who tend to the remnants of physical form, an act of collective survival that honors the lost and cultivates the land. Elaborate and beguiling, these works put forth an environment of ominous beauty and pervasive decay. They are spaces in which life and death coexist, where traumas are exposed and healed through the grace of the solemn mourners.

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Installation view, Ebony G. Patterson: she is land...she is the mourning...


Installation view, Brittney Leeanne Williams: How Far Between and Back


moniquemeloche gallery is pleased to present How Far Between and Back, an exhibition of new works by Brittney Leeanne Williams. This is Williams’ first solo show with the gallery, following her participation in the summer 2019 group exhibition SHOW ME YOURS. Williams’ figures are shapeshifters, each one represents a multitude of women: the artist, the mother, the daughter. The figures become architectural forms, yet also grounding landscape through which resonances of Williams’ childhood terrain in Southern California are captured in red planes. In response to the classical Eurocentric depiction of the nude female form, Williams presents a series of nude figures in various states of transformation. Rather than a fixed pose – the seductive recline, the pudica, the contrapposto – each figure evokes fluidity: physical yet beset by emotional or psychological entanglements. The landscape and the body adjoin through the surreal; defying the boundaries of ground and figure, gravity and reason. Each scorching figure is grounded in a terrain of grief, the desolate topography presenting a manifestation of psychological and emotional experiences. Space in the work often evokes notions of internal psychological and spiritual distance from the external, physical world. The bridging of these interior and exterior distances is part of Williams’ investigation of the spiritual . Rather than inviting an appraising gaze of the female form, Williams positions her figures as solid architectural structures, a vault through which to reimagine the body. Williams’ work draws on Zadie Smith’s reading of Rembrandt’s Seated Nude: “This is what a woman is: unadorned, after children and work and age and experience--These are the marks of living.” (On Beauty) Through her abstracted figure’s ever-changing form, Williams’ female becomes evocatively complex, more difficult to locate, lust after, or fully understand.

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Ebony G. Patterson Installation views


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Ebony G. Patterson Artworks


...the wailing...guides us home...and there is a bellying on the land..., 2021 mixed media on jacquard woven photo tapestry 120 x 157 x 12 in 304.8 x 398.8 x 30.5 cm 20


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Detail


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Detail


...in the waiting...in the weighting..., 2021 mixed media on jacquard woven photo tapestry 106 x 132 x 84 in 269.2 x 335.3 x 213.4 cm

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Detail


Detail 28


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...the land blisters...in grace..., 2021 work on paper 94 x 106 x 14 in 238.8 x 269.2 x 35.6 cm

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...the hawk looks out...as she embraces the haunt...and flies come for the nourishing..., 2021 work on paper 103.5 x 103 x 14 in 262.9 x 261.6 x 35.6 cm 36


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Detail


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Artists in Conversation


Artists Ebony G. Patterson and Brittney Leeanne Williams in Conversation he ollowing te t is trans ribed and edited rom an audio re ording ta en in

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Ebony G. Patterson and Brittney Leeanne Williams candidly discuss the labor involved in their craft and the vulnerability of process. The deliberate pairing of these two new bodies of work highlight Patterson and Williams desire to push past the limits of the human figure, by metamorphosing limbs within the artists lived terrain, a Southern California desert, and lush tropical garden. As close friends Patterson and Williams chose to speak freely about the psychological and physical turmoil which results from the female body in various forms of transformation. The harmonious relationship between these exhibitions results from countless hours of labor and both artists shared desire to traverse memory, form, and landscape. E G P : Brittney and I never talk about what we’re making, we talk about the experiencing around making, the labor of making which is a thing we don’t frequently get asked about. People will often ask us, “well tell me what your work is about?” I tell them to trust what their looking at because before we had the gift of speech the first language that we engaged with was visual. People often forget how intimate making is or don’t think about the intimacy of making. When I get asked “tell me more” it feels like taking for granted the intimacy of the labor involved with making. B L W : What comes to mind when you’re speaking, strangely, is a Catholic priest. Viewers want the maker, or the perceived expert on the work, to tell them how to experience it; this also happens in our spiritual life, we want the perceived expert, in this case the priest, to facilitate this idea of God. However, it is exactly like you said, we have all started with simply just seeing right? We are actually in some ways already experts. Yet we still have this mistrust in ourselves when viewing the work. EGP: Yes, I think it is a mistrust, but also a laziness. Because when you are engaging with visual information it requires both sides of the brain to the clicked on, it requires trust, it is labor. BLW: Perhaps the challenge with viewership is when someone happens upon a work, there’s this desire to know the truth or purity or righteousness of that work. The viewer is responsible for sitting with themselves and really thinking about the meaning of the work, but there are endless meanings behind them and to some these many meanings are an erasure of the truth.

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After all of our labor and time we have placed in the work, all of our discovery and exploration, as the viewer, I wonder if I’m seeking out knowing someone more, and maybe I have no right to know that person more, they gave me what they wanted to give me. This is how they wanted to connect with the world publicly, and I need to respect that boundary. EGP: I guess also there’s another thing, that may inspire people to ask the question “tell me more,” the idea that there is some person that could make something, and they could make it really well, the viewer is just trying to understand how this is even possible. An intellectual curiosity. I remember it being beaten into me very early on, that you have to think about what your wow is. BLW: Like awestruck? EGP: More like “wow how did that happen? How did this come together?”. The wow is that it must not be revealed too quickly. It must almost seem impossible to grapple with. I think that’s also that you know people are probably also just intrigued with this idea like oh my God and how does it even begin to happen? And the only way I can know is if I talk to, as you have descried it, the expert. I am way more flattered when people come to me and tell me what they think. Having taught for a bit of time, I would always say to my students, ‘You have this responsibility that when I come to you in the classroom, I’m giving you something. I give you something to push you along to help you figure out the next place to go with the work, you need to give me something. I need you to step into the work.’ BLW: Exactly, you have to step into the work for it to resonate. I love when someone does do this work we’re talking about and comes to me and I can tell they have done the work because I see it, and feel it, in their body, they’re holding the work. In that state of reverence they start telling me what they think and we’re connecting. We are in the same place, and we both found each other or were at least in the same universe. EGP: I always like to enter my show and observe people looking at the work when they have no idea who I am, to see if they have really engaged with it without asking me to describe it to them.

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BLW: Sadly, I don’t think I have ever experienced that because of the content of my paintings. I think everyone’s trying to picture my body in relationship to my work. I think in many ways, people are thinking of Brittney, not the actual work. It’s rare that I get the opportunity of existing as another moving part in a room full of my work, which I think I’m kind of grieved by. Everyone comes to look at my work or look at me, what a wonderful thing to happen if I were to get to look at them looking at an extension of me through my work. I really thought for a while about what was going to be in the show. There’s are so many decisions that could be made, right? And when you decide to make one, you feel so responsible and weighed down by that decision, so when it goes out in the world, do I really want to speak for it, advocate for it, be accountable to it? EGP: Yeah, because when it leaves it s no longer yours. I always worry about that. I mean, as an artist you just always want to know that what leaves is the best of you in that moment. If you’re always in the consciousness of thinking about how things could be better, it is hard to recognize what you’ve done that is good because all you’re focused on is the way it could be better. BLW: Yeah, and you’ve moved past it. Full disclosure: a couple days after the show I went to brunch with my roommate and she asked me, what’s wrong? And I just started crying. I don’t know how I feel every time I put work out into the world. I have not yet figured out the balance of what you’re talking about, the tension of sharing my best work. I am always asking, is it, is it, and do I believe in it? I know I believed in it in the moment that it was made, but then what happens after a month. Because now I’m thinking about this red body in this new way, and it might no longer make sense depicted in this other way. Yet it is still out in the world, the show is still up and people want to talk about it in that specific way, but you are past it. EGP: I think the thing that I’ve been grappling with and what I keep saying to myself is I just need to give it space. Because if so many people are saying that for them there’s something good in it, I need the space so that I can also see what could potentially be good in it. So that I can recognize it, and so I can let it go. It doesn’t mean that the problems that I see are not still problems, it just means that like everything else I will resolve them in the next lane.

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I think every work is a lesson. When I say, oh my God, I can’t believe I made that, it’s not because of the pride I feel in making the thing. It’s what I learned in the process of making it. There’s also this other lesson, that sometimes one thing you learn is not going to translate to the other. For example, when I started making more sculptural paper works and then returned to tapestries, it took me a minute to realize I’ve been making these paper investigations for almost two years with no tapestries. And then when I came back to working with the tapestries simultaneously, I kept trying to achieve the same form, but I am not a sculptor. I use sculptural language, but I am not a sculptor. BLW: These are doorways into massive conversations that need to be had. I think that there are moments throughout my practice where I’ve made something which has led to 20 other paintings and if I could bottle that, whatever the hell that is and keep it, I would. I guess that’s inspiration or curiosity. There have been works that have led to a fountain of interest. There’s also works that have taught me things. I will have an attachment to how it was made, I’m attracted to the hours of labor. How I make the work, being on the floor bent over, these things are so attractive to me that I have a deep entanglement with process. EGP: Like the work ...the wailing...guides us home...and there is a bellying on the land.... That work took me a long time to begin. I was concerned as it’s clearly a black body, a black female body, how could I just chop the head off? I went back and forth on what the material should be on which the image would sit. It would have felt very different say, if that was a paper-based work versus a woven work, which is the way it currently lives. And I’m thinking about it in terms of scale. With this particular work, I felt like I had to make a physical primary study just so that I could contend with how I was going to treat and deal with this image. There was a lot of nervousness that sat inside me for almost a year before I started working on it. It was powerful, but I was nervous about how the work could be read. Also thinking about myself as a black wom-an, this is almost a mirroring of my own body in some ways. And just sitting with my feelings that would come surrounding that. When I think about the journey of making that work in particular, how much it’s changed, I do think it’s resolved. I never say something is finished. I like the word resolve because it leaves space for revisiting.

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Brittney Leeanne Williams Installation views


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Brittney Leeanne Williams Artworks


Complementary Prayer, 2021 oil on canvas 58 x 58 in 147.3 x 147.3 cm 54


Detail 55


The Break of a Curse, 2021 oil on canvas 60 x 42 in 152.4 x 106.7 cm 56


Detail 57


Dusk, 2021 oil on linen 30 x 30 in 76.2 x 76.2 cm 58


Detail 59


Arch with Yellow Halo, 2021 oil on canvas 29 1/2 x 29 1/2 in 74.9 x 74.9 cm 60


Detail 61


Rain 3 (Bean and a Stone), 2021 oil on linen 40 x 40 in 101.6 x 101.6 cm 62


Detail 63


Heel, 2021 oil on canvas 50 x 35 1/2 in 127 x 90.2 cm 64


Detail 65


Bent Tree 3, 2021 acrylic, watercolor, and gouache on paper 15 1/4 x 15 1/4 in 38.7 x 38.7 cm 66


Walking Red Tree, 2021 acrylic and gouache on paper 19 1/4 x 15 1/4 in 48.9 x 38.7 cm 67


Red and Black Circle, 2021 acrylic, pastel, and gouache on paper 19 1/4 x 15 1/4 in 48.9 x 38.7 cm 68


Untitled (The Grass’ Shadow), 2021 acrylic, pastel, and gouache on paper 19 1/4 x 15 1/4 in 48.9 x 38.7 cm 69


Gallop, Prance, Step, 2021 gouache and acrylic on paper 17 1/4 x 13 1/4 in 43.8 x 33.7 cm 70


Arch 9, 2020 gouache, pastel, and acrylic on paper 15 1/4 x 15 1/4 in 38.7 x 38.7 cm 71


Ebony G. Patterson (b. 1981 Kingston, Jamaica) received her BFA in painting from Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica in 2004. She received an MFA degree in 2006 in printmaking and drawing from the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Patterson has taught at the University of Virginia, Edna Manley College School of Visual and Performing Arts, and was an Associate Professor in Painting and Mixed Media at the University of Kentucky until 2018. Currently, she is the Bill and Stephanie Sick Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Brittney Leeanne Williams (b. 1990, Pasadena, CA) is a Chicago-based artist, originally from Los Angeles. Her work has been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami (Untitled Art Fair), London, Venice (Venice Biennale), Antwerp, Copenhagen, and Hong Kong, as well as in Chicago and throughout the Midwest. Williams attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2008-2009). She is a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant recipient and a Luminarts Fellow. Williams’ artist residencies include Arts + Public Life (University of Chicago) and McColl Center for Art + Innovation, among others.

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Monique Meloche Gallery is located at 451 N Paulina Street, Chicago, IL 60622 For additional info, visit moniquemeloche.com or email info@moniquemeloche.com

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Profile for Monique Meloche Gallery

Ebony G. Patterson and Brittney Leeanne Williams  

This catalogue was published on the occasion of the first solo exhibition by Brittney Leeanne Williams, and the fifth solo exhibition by Ebo...

Ebony G. Patterson and Brittney Leeanne Williams  

This catalogue was published on the occasion of the first solo exhibition by Brittney Leeanne Williams, and the fifth solo exhibition by Ebo...

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