On Friday, Sept. 9, Washington University in St. Louis’ Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the school’s founding and the opening of the museum’s Fumihiko Maki-designed building.
In conjunction with the celebration — and adding a deeper meaning to the evening’s festivities — the museum has commissioned a special one-night-only artwork by Sam Fox School alumna Ebony G. Patterson.
Measuring approximately six by two feet, “… in times like these …” consists of a cake with a bright red interior decorated with a pile of toy guns cast from chocolate as well as colorful flowers sculpted from sugar. Species such as hydrangeas, azaleas and lilies are represented — appearing festive, but chosen by the artist because they are actually poisonous.
The effect is at once opulent, celebratory and confrontational — an edible artwork that challenges viewers to consider the pervasiveness of gun violence and its impact on children in particular.
To create “… in times like these …,” Patterson is working with Simone Faure, founder of La Patisserie Chouquette, 1626 Tower Grove Ave. The celebrated St. Louis pastry chef will both construct and direct the cutting of the cake.
“Patterson’s multilayered practice centers on works that are visually seductive yet also deeply critical,” said Allison Unruh, associate curator at the Kemper Art Museum, who commissioned the project. “With ‘… in times like these …,’ she has conceived a provocative work that uses an unexpected medium to prompt discussion about the role of gun violence in our society.
“To consume the work is to become part of a communal action,” Unruh said. “It is a form of acknowledging how important this issue is.”
10th anniversary celebration
Events will begin at 6 p.m. Friday with the opening of “Real / Radical / Psychological: The Collection on Display,” which showcases the museum’s acclaimed permanent collection. The cake will be shared from 7-9:30 p.m. in the museum’s North Foyer.
Also beginning at 7 p.m., Sam Fox School students and faculty will host a series of activities in neighboring Bixby, Givens, Steinberg and Walker halls. These will include printmaking, bookmaking, blacksmithing and 3-D printing demonstrations, as well as button-making, a scavenger hunt and a custom photo booth.
Local band Letter to Memphis will perform in the Jordan Charitable Foundation Central Plaza, located between Sternberg Hall and the museum. Food trucks will be stationed next to the museum.
About Ebony G. Patterson
Since graduating in 2006, Patterson has earned an international reputation for ambitious multimedia artworks that explore questions of identity, race, innocence and violence. She is an associate professor at the University of Kentucky. Over the last decade, her work has been featured in a variety of solo exhibitions, including “… when they grow up …” at the The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2016); “Invisible Presence: Bling Memories” at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (2016); and “Dead Treez” at the Museum of Art and Design, New York, and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Wis. (2015).
Patterson has participated in such international group exhibitions as the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (2016); “Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art,” at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, N.C. (2016); “Between the Idea and Experience, 12th Havana Biennial” (2015); “Jamaica Biennial 2014” in Kingston (2014); and “Caribbean: Crossroads of the World” at the Perez Art Museum, Miami (2014).
Patterson is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Joan Mitchell Foundation Artist Grant (2015); Aaron Matalon Award, Jamaica Biennial (2014); Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica (2012); and an Andy Warhol Foundation Grant (2012). Recent articles on Patterson’s work have appeared in The New Yorker, Interview Magazine, and the New York Times, among other publications. She will serve on the Artistic Director’s council for Prospect New Orleans’s upcoming international art exhibition, Prospect.4 (P.4).
Kemper Art Museum
The Kemper Art Museum is located near the intersection of Lindell and Skinker boulevards. The 10th anniversary celebration runs from 6-10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9. All exhibitions and demonstrations are free and open to the public. For more information, call 314-935-4523; visit kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu; or follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.