Ebony G. Patterson, the first African American visual artist featured at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), flaunts a flare of flowery fantasy that’s complemented with life-size sculptures of glittery vultures and beautiful horticultural installations. Patterson’s extraordinary exhibits are held at the NYBG’s Conservatory and Library, and this magical site-specific presentation is extended now through October 22, 2023. It’s a must-see for the entire family. 

Founded in 1891 and located in the Bronx, The New York Botanical Garden is the most comprehensive botanical garden in the world and is an integral part of the cultural fabric of New York City.

On the path to the Enid A. Hault Conservatory, you will be delighted to spot Patterson’s life-size sculptures of black vultures, which are glamorously glittered and interspersed throughout her amazing floral arrangements. Inside the conservatory, there’s a vast collection of a variety of plants, trees, and flowers.

A series of Patterson’s latest works, on paper and in installations, is on display in the Mertz Library Building, along with archival multimedia work exploring both gardens and uncultivated, wild nature, where visitors will find magnificent floral sculptures and displays that explain the materials she uses to create her masterpieces. Because of the heat, it’s best to take the tram up to the Mertz Library Building, which is also in the garden area.   

The title of Patterson’s exhibit is, “…things come to thrive…in the shredding…in the molting…” The entire presentation is a result of a yearlong engagement with the botanical garden to explore its collections and settings. During this time, she explored the LuEster T. Mertz Library’s special collections of historic and rare botanical books. In recent years, Patterson has reengaged with paper, her primary medium as an art student, in the development of entangled three-dimensional collages. 

Patterson 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. She is the first visual artist ever to be embedded within the institution for an immersive residency, and she worked directly with the Garden’s grounds and collection to form her new bodies of work. The collection includes sculptures, installations, and interventions with living plants. The scents of the flowers are fresh and fragrant. She brings a new perspective on formal gardens to life in the galleries and landscape of the garden’s 250-acre National Historical Landmark site. 

Her work is also exploratory and gives way to processes of healing, regeneration, and beauty. The exhibition celebrates the contemplation of what lies beneath and helps viewers think about sustainability.   

“We’ve been thrilled by the reception to Ebony G. Patterson’s work and the in-depth engagement with the Garden and the landscape it has inspired. Extending the exhibition into autumn will not only provide an opportunity for more visitors to see this important work, but also allow for the landscape to evolve in different ways,” said Jennifer Bernstein, CEO and The William C. Steere Sr. President of The New York Botanical Garden. “This artwork is looking deeply at cycles of growth, decay, and regeneration, and we look forward to being able to contemplate these themes into another season.”

For more info, visit www.nybg.org/event/ebony-g-patterson.

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