My name is Ebony G Patterson, I’m a mixed media artist based in Kingston, Jamaica and Lexington, KY, and I’m one of 25 artists participating in the inaugural exhibition curated by Dan Cameron in Swope Park, Kansas City, MO called Open Spaces. The project asks artists to make a new work that will exist throughout the public 8000 acre park.
For Open Spaces, I want to fill a defunct public pool in Swope Park, Kansas City, Missouri with bouquets, wreaths, toys, candy, loose flowers, and personal effects. Around the pool will sit four gold benches to recognize the space for the neighborhood and community to meet, relax, pause, and bear witness to the site and its history. My hope through this work is to acknowledge the life of this site and the life of so many it once held in a moment of reverence -- to create presence in a moment of absence. With your help, we can realize this work together.
Why is this important?
When I first happened upon this closed public pool in the middle of a public park, it made me wonder: what happened here? It’s a stark, bare, uneasy, and almost haunted site in the middle of a continually active park residents use to barbeque, meet friends, family, loved ones, and relax. I began to consider, how can my artwork help to reclaim this space for the park and the people who use it?
The pool is also one of the only two pools that exist in Swope Park. The pool more popularly known as the Swope Park Pool was part of a 1951 desegregation case, where the Kansas City and Parks Board sought to uphold the “separate but equal” doctrine in public spaces and facilities. It was declared unlawful and unconstitutional, allowing the pool to be used by anyone regardless of the color of their skin.
However, there is very little known about this second pool in public record. It bears a memorial plaque in honor of Dr. Harry M. Gilkey, who had worked to help a number of “handicapped” children in Kansas City, MO using hydrotherapy. This pool was believed to have been used also by a number of camp goers up until it closed. I want to better honor this history by taking down the fence, cleaning the space, and creating a work here . I also want to ask what it means to memorialize not just a site that was already memorialized, but also to embellish a site that is already embellished. What does it mean to give presence and meaning to a space that has been essentially unheard of? How do we reclaim what is meant for the collective? These are questions I want to pose not only for the exhibition but also for the community who once used it and will now use it again, and learn from what they have to say.
About the Artist
My work often explores working class cultures and spaces and the engagements in declaring presence as an act of protest. I aim to elevate those who have been deemed invisible/unvisible as a result inherited colonial social structures, by incorporating their words, thoughts, dress, and pageantry as a tactic of memorialize them. It is a way to say: “I am here, and you cannot deny me.”
After visiting the park for the first time, I was really interested in the possibilities of thinking about witnessing, memorializing and embellishing the pool. I wanted to create an opportunity for the viewer to consider its relationship not just with these subjects but also what it means to do things in a public space and what bodies are actively allowed to do or engage in the space. Many of the ideas in this project are also related to investigations from my body of work 'Dead Treez' and the project ‘....buried again to carry on growing’. What intrigues me the most about Open Spaces is the opportunity to engage viewers in a public space beyond the “white cube” and the opportunity for the public to engage with this work continually without any restrictions.
My work has been shown in multiple venues throughout the US and internationally such as at the Museum of Art and Design, the John Michael Kohler Art Center, Studio Museum in Harlem, Seattle Art Museum, the National Gallery of Jamaica, as well at the 2014 Prospect Trienniale in New Orleans, the 2015 Havana Biennial in Havana, Cuba, and the 2016 Sao Paulo Biennial in São Paulo, Brazil.
I am also interested in the act of bearing witness through memorialization. With this work I am seeking to engage viewers to consider what it means to bear witness while being a witness. While raising questions about who is allowed to participate in the act of witness.
What will your contribution support?
Your support to this project will help specifically with the costs of fabrication of seating for the site. I would like viewers, whether they are visiting for Open Spaces or long-time residents, to be able to sit at the site for opportunities of contemplation. At the end of the project, the benches will then be donated to the park for continued public use.
I have partnered with Kickstarter on this project because I was interested in the possibilities of making this project truly public. I wanted each of you who are interested in the premise of this project to be able to own it too! This is the gift about the making a public work. The artist may be the author, but the project belongs to all who come to see it, and in this case it belongs even more to those who help to make it happen: YOU! This project will be impossible without your help, so thank you.
Reward #1: Pledge $10 or more Digital Thanks
Endless thanks to you! I'll keep you updated on how the installation unfolds.
Reward #2: Pledge $25 or more Limited Edition Thank You Card
A thank you card signed by me that you can hang on your wall as a small token of my appreciation, and to keep as your own piece of the project.
Reward #3: Pledge $45 or more Limited Edition Car Magnet
A postcard-sized car magnet featuring a reproduction of one of my artworks, so that you too can publicly spread revitalization and visibility!
Reward #4: Pledge $125 or more Coffee Chat and Viewing + Thank You Card
We'll all meet for coffee on the opening date, August 25, 2018, when we'll view the work together, and learn about my practice and the park. This reward has limited capacity- each person invited +1 guest. So bring a friend and share your story! You'll also receive a limited edition thank you card, signed by me.
Reward #5: Pledge $750 or more Limited Edition Print
Receive a 24 x 36 inch limited edition print by me, made in collaboration with Artspace. The original artwork for this print was included in my 2015 presentation at the 12th Havana Biennial. Print is an edition of 25 and will come with a signed certificate of authenticity. Once all 25 editions sell out, a new print edition of another artwork from that series will be offered.
Reward #6: Pledge $1,000 or more VIP Access + Private Tour + Card
Get a VIP pass to Open Spaces and private tour of Called Up with me at Swope Park (must be available Aug 23 or 24, 2018) + limited edition thank you card.
Reward #7: Pledge $1,500 or more Suite of 3 Limited Edition Prints
You'll receive a suite of three 24 x 36 inch limited edition prints I made in collaboration with Artspace. The original artworks for these prints were based on works included in my 2015 presentation at the 12th Havana Biennial. Each suite of prints is an edition of 25 and will come with a signed certificate of authenticity. This price is exclusive for my Kickstarter backers only!
Risks and challenges
Over the course of this project, I will keep you posted on the developments, as I want to take you along the journey with me!
Some of the rewards are directly related to the “Called Up” installation, so I will not be able to send these rewards to you until after the project is done.
I promise to send these out as quickly as I can, as I am eager to share the fruits of our journey since you have been with me in making all of this possible!
- (30 days)