It can be difficult, at first glance, to understand how an artist could make such heavy material bright and lively. Yet Patterson noted that a garden can also be a burial site—we’re often merging beauty and death, from placing flowers on a tombstone to digging graves in quiet, verdant locales.
If Patterson’s sparkling surfaces overwhelm the eye, she’s also apt to maximize the garden’s symbolic potential. While discussing all of its possible connotations, she told me how “the garden happens on the body.” For her, clothing is its own kind of garden: an embellishment that can convey status and personality. Fashion implies self-determination and even liberation—by choosing our clothing, we decide how we present ourselves to the world. Using mannequins, Patterson further connects her work to the industry. Somehow, she manages to merge such disparate ideas about the garden into her gorgeous, accessible, and curiously cohesive practice.
Indeed, in order to wrangle such complicated themes, Patterson requires a certain aesthetic sleight of hand. Her intricate, eye-catching tapestries and installations are like glistening spider webs, ensnaring viewers’ eyes with sparkles, then gradually revealing their dark undertones. “I’m using beauty as a tool,” she said, “as a kind of trap.”