Ebony G. Patterson

Both haunting and joyful, the Holiday ‘16 window that Ebony G. Patterson has created at our Downtown flagship quite literally asks people to stop and engage, thanks to a chorus of voices who chant, “See me, see me,” to passersby. The voices belong to 15 native Jamaican adults and children who come to life via 3D projection maps created by Christie Digital that illuminate the faces of mannequins while they are speaking; when they go quiet, patterns of light obscure the figures into the background.

“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,” explains Patterson, whose work often reflects on marginalized people in her culture and in society as a whole. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Patterson is a rising star in the art world, known for her brightly bold, heavily embellished work that combines a high-camp sensibility with powerful social commentary. The recipient of many prestigious awards and grants, she’s currently showing at the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil, and has a solo exhibition called “Dead Treez” at the Boston University Art Galleries (it will travel to the University of Buffalo Gallery in Spring 2017).

Barneys New York: Launches Love Peace Joy Project for Holiday 2016
Christie used advanced projection solutions, media servers and technical expertise to 3D projection map the videos onto mannequins in the window, illuminating the faces when they are speaking, and reverting back to a pattern that camouflage the mannequins against the background when they are quiet, representing how people blend into the background when they are not being heard.

As part of a group of artists enlisted to create holiday windows in the spirit of Love Peace Joy, Patterson chose to represent love because, to her, it’s the most open of the three words. “Sometimes when we think about the notion of love, we think it can only happen if we know someone,” she says. “But I think the sense of empathy is also a way of displaying and engaging in the act of love. I’m exploring what it means for people who feel like they aren’t seen asking to be seen and understood through the act of love.”

The faces and the voices featured in the window range from friends to mentors to acquaintances, and though she has relationships with all of them, she’s quick to point out they are acting as models, not as themselves. The mannequins are wearing ornate, hand-made outfits featuring jewel-encrusted fabrics that Patterson designed along with Chris Pablo.

This marks Patterson’s first collaboration with a retailer, and she says that seeing the Hood by Air windows on Madison Avenue earlier this year piqued her interest. “I saw those windows and thought wow. I think it’s so cool that a commercial entity is interested in not just engaging its customers through selling things, but also interested in challenging it customers. I think that’s really thoughtful,” says Patterson, who approached this the way she would any project. She was especially drawn to the inclusive aspect of being at street level. “There are far more people who will traverse the street and see this than will enter the store. That’s an incredibly generous gesture to think about the public that way—to give them something. I hope it gives people pause, which is really what we hope to do as artists.”

Love Peace Joy Project is on display now through January 3, 2017 at our Downtown flagship. 

Plus, we’re inviting you to take part in our Love Peace Joy Project via our social campaign #LovePeaceJoyProject in support of Amy Schumer and Leesa Evans’ STYLEFUND and the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation. Find all the details here.