Artist Ebony G. Patterson is the 2023 recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize in recognition of her contributions to the field of African American art. Awarded annually by the Museum since 2005, the prize demonstrates the High’s ongoing dedication to furthering artistic innovation and promoting research of African American artists and scholars.
Based in Kingston, Jamaica, and Chicago, Patterson is known for her multilayered works in a variety of media that contrast beautiful, lush imagery, color and texture with darker underlying themes addressing societal and political injustices. Her complex compositions, which at first may appear celebratory, draw the viewer in to discover deeper truths relating to race-based class issues, social division and political violence. These interrogations explore the legacies inherent in postcolonial spaces, often memorializing and honoring the lives of those who have been deemed socially invisible or “unvisible.”
Her work has been featured in more than fifty solo and group exhibitions over the past ten years and is included in the collections of distinguished institutions such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); the National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston; Perez Art Museum, Miami; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. The High acquired her work . . . they stood in a time of unknowing . . . for those who bear/bare witness (2018), which was presented in the exhibition What Is Left Unspoken, Love (March–August 2022). Solo exhibitions of her work are forthcoming at the New York Botanical Garden and the Arnolfini Museum in Bristol, United Kingdom. She serves as co-artistic director of Prospect.6, slated to open in 2024, and she is the first artist to hold this position.
“Patterson’s striking work commemorates the lives and struggles of marginalized people throughout the world. In doing so, she asks viewers to consider tough questions regarding social and racial inequality globally,” said Rand Suffolk, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., director of the High. “We are honored to recognize her important practice and considerable contributions to African American art with the 2023 Driskell Prize.”
Patterson holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica, and a Master of Fine Arts in printmaking and drawing from the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Solo exhibitions of her work have been presented at Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago; Hales Gallery, New York; Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, North Carolina; Perez Art Museum, Miami; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Museum of Art and Design, New York; Baltimore Museum of Art; Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia; and Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark. Her work is included in the much-acclaimed group exhibition Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s–Today (Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago), which will travel to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, in 2023 and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in 2024. Her artwork was also recently featured in the Liverpool Biennial (Liverpool, England, 2021) and the Athens Biennale (Athens, Greece, 2021).
Patterson has taught at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and at the University of Virginia, was an associate professor of painting and mixed media at the University of Kentucky and was the Bill and Stephanie Sick Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In addition to the Driskell Prize, she has received an Alturas Foundation Grant (2020), the United States Artists Award (2018), a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant (2017), a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (2015), and an Andy Warhol Foundation Grant, in collaboration with Small Axe (2014).
Learn more about the David C. Driskell Prize and other previous winners.