LEXINGTON, Ky.—Young artists Ebony G. Patterson and Oneika Russell bring fresh insight to their Jamaican culture by examining notions of identity in Mi Did Deh Deh. Morlan Gallery’s first exhibition of 2009 opened Friday, January 9, and runs through February 27. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
“Both Patterson and Russell work in a vivid and confrontational style that imparts the feeling of receiving a first-hand account of the social and political currents in Jamaica,” said Morlan Gallery Director Andrea Fisher. “Therefore, the exhibition is called Mi Did Deh Deh, meaning I Was There in the Jamaican dialect.”
Russell is an artist working in Kingston in digital and traditional media. Her work is generally made up of drawings, objects, digital animations and video. Her Morlan Gallery work includes two video pieces and a series of photographs exploring Manet's painting, Olympia. In this well-known painting, a young nude woman reclines on her day bed, yet the figure behind Olympia has been virtually ignored in art history. Russell takes a long look at the black servant woman in the background, drawing attention to the role of the black woman, giving her a voice and an identity.
Patterson, a University of Kentucky assistant professor of painting, also draws attention to identity in her Disciplez Series, a collection of mixed media pieces that examine the culture of dancehall, a type of Jamaican popular music that is less political and less religious than roots style reggae. Through a series of larger than life portraits, Patterson challenges the perceptions of masculinity as presented in dancehall culture and calls into question the current practice of skin bleaching, prevalent in Jamaican dancehall and street culture.
Patterson will deliver a gallery talk about her work on Wednesday, January 21, from 12:30-1:20 p.m. in the Morlan Gallery. This event is free and open to the public.
The gallery’s regular hours are Monday-Friday, noon-5 p.m. and by special appointment. The gallery will also be open for the Lexington Gallery Hop on Friday, February 20, from 5-8 p.m. The gallery will be closed Martin Luther King Jr. Day—Monday, January 19. For more information, contact gallery director Andrea Fisher at (859) 233-8142.