In Ebony G. Patterson’s ‘Garden,’ Hidden Dangers and Delights

Sarah Hotchkiss, KQED, June 18, 2021

For some of us, the past year and a half has been an extended period of decay—good habits lost, new vices found, a cruel winnowing of both social skills and sanity. We gaze with genuine astonishment at those who experienced it as a time of personal metamorphosis, as an opportunity to reinvent oneself in private. 


It’s perhaps even more impressive to see this type of change at an institutional level, where existing systems are tied to financial exigencies, grant applications and, in the case of nonprofits, boards. And yet the Institute of Contemporary Art San José has emerged from its long period of closure with a new facade exhibition space, refreshed galleries and, fittingly for this overarching metaphor, filled with butterflies. 


Ebony G. Patterson’s solo exhibition ...when the cuts erupt...the garden rings...and the warning is a wailing takes full advantage of the ICA’s newly enlarged gallery. (A wall that previously divided the space into three smaller areas is gone.) The artist, who was born in Kingston, Jamaica and is now based in Chicago, morphs the traditional white cube into a night garden, with dramatic spotlighting on her three-dimensional mixed media works and walls covered in dark purple paint or similarly moody photographic wallpaper.