feature: jamaican artist ebony g. patterson: exploring masculinity in popular culture

August 1, 2014

The lives we live mirror the thoughts we entertain, which ultimately creates our diverse cultures by deeming traditions, and beliefs as an important staple in daily routine and practices. Though some notions cause more controversy than others, the Jamaican Reggae-Dancehall culture makes it well known as a collective that being gay is frowned upon which causes an automatic rebellion by those who are openly gay. There must be a way for the two cultures to unite and see how much the other has influenced its inspiration. So, what is the divine alternative that helps merge the two? Art! Celebrated artist Ebony G. Patterson displays her ability to think beyond the double standard of sexuality by exploring a plethora of ideas and observations through her exquisite mixed media aesthetic.

Words by Tip Jordan, AFROPUNK Contributor *

In her artist statement, Patterson writes: “My ongoing body of work explores constructions of the masculine within popular culture – while using Jamaican dancehall culture as platform for this discourse. My works seeks to measure the masculine by looking at how popular culture has contributed to these transformations. The early work looked at the fashionable practice of skin bleaching, followed by investigations of so-called ‘ bling culture’ and its relationship to the masculine within an urban context. While still making references to dancehall culture, my work raises larger questions about beauty, gender ideals and constructs of masculinity within so called ‘popular black’ culture. It examines the similarities and differences between ‘camp aesthetics’ –the use of feminine gendered adornment- in the construct of the urban masculine within popular culture. This body of work raises questions about body politics, performance of gender, gender and beauty, beauty and stereotyping, race and beauty, and body and ritual.”

“Jamaicans are homophobic and Dancehall reaffirms this with its lyrics. It is very much of a male-dominated world where many things that aren’t considered traditionally masculine, are being considered a problem. However, it is interesting to see that how the things which used to be considered effeminate, or ‘gay’, are now looked at as very macho all of sudden – baggy clothes being replaced with slim-fitting colourful outfits for example. I find this shift in masculinity to be very interesting to observe. “ – Ebony G. Patterson in Vogue Italia

“I find it interesting to confront the Jamaicans, by showing them that what’s coming out of their mouth is in strong contrast with what they’re saying with their appearance. I hope my work will start a dialogue within the community, that will hopefully benefit those who are being ignored and dismissed by Jamaican society.” – Ebony G. Patterson in Vogue Italia

Ebony G. Patterson’s website:

* Tip Jordan’s website: