DEAD TREEZ explored social and political issues within the gender-bending subculture of Jamaica’s dancehall community. Combining the rhythms of reggae, digital sounds, and rapid-fire DJ lyrics, dancehall music was popularized in Jamaica during the 1970s. Generally viewed as a celebration of the disenfranchised in postcolonial Jamaica, dancehall culture emerged from the marginalized youth culture of Kingston’s ghettos.
In this exhibition, Jamaican-born Ebony G. Patterson (Jamaica and KY) examined the pageantry of the dancehall culture and revealed it to be much more than spectacle; it is also a window onto working-class Jamaican society. The exhibition included six new eye-popping tapestries adorned with glitter, silk flowers, rhinestones, and other dancehall references, plus a life-size figural tableau of ten male mannequins, dressed in a kaleidoscopic mix of floral fabrics.