To Love

Published November 18, 2016

ABOVE: EBONY G. PATTERSON’S INSTALLATION FOR BARNEYS NEW YORK’S DOWNTOWN FLAGHSHIP.

“Sometimes when we think about the notion of love, we think it can only happen if we know someone,” explains Ebony G. Patterson. “I think the sense of empathy and feeling of empathy is also a way of displaying and engaging in the act of love,” the Jamaican visual artist continues.

For the 2016 holiday season, Barneys New York commissioned a variety of creative minds—the artist collective Studio Job, South Park‘s Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and visual artists Nick Cave, Rob Pruitt, and Patterson—to design their own store windows. Unveiled last night, the windows are collectively inspired by the themes of “love, peace, and joy”—a nod to Barneys’ new Barneys New York Foundation, which has launched a charitable social campaign called the #LovePeaceJoyProject. Patterson in particular chose to focus love: “It’s the most open of the three words,” she tells us. Much of Patterson’s work is inspired by the disenfranchised and the forgotten, and her window installation examines the concept of love through this lens: “I’m exploring what it means for people who feel like they aren’t seen are to ask to be seen and understood through the act of love … It has a lot to do with ideas around visibility and invisibility. To love someone, you have to be able to see them. To give compassion, one has to give acknowledgement. Which seems all the more relevant now.”

The setting of Patterson’s is one of lush vegetation, with camoflauged mannequins wearing vibrant, jewel-encrusted clothes designed by Patterson herself. “Evocative of the domestic and feminine, flowers are something that I consistently use in my work,” she says. “They are beautiful and some poisonous varieties are used to create lush gardens that both conceal and reveal.” Instead of keeping the mannequins’ faces blank, Patterson has projected 3D videos of Jamaican children and adults repeating the phrase, “See me.” Her aim for what customers takeaway from her installation is simple: “I hope it gives people pause, which is really what we hope to do as artists,” she says. “I thought it’s cool that a commercial entity is interested in not just engaging its customers through selling things, but also interested in challenging it customers.”

EBONY G. PATTERSON’S HOLIDAY WINDOW INSTALLATION IS NOW ON VIEW AT BARNEYS NEW YORK’S DOWNTOWN FLAGSHIP ON 7TH AVENUE.