Prize recognizes Patterson’s contributions to the field of African American art 

Patterson to be honored at 18th annual Driskell Prize Gala on April 28, 2023 

The High Museum of Art today announced artist Ebony G. Patterson as the 2023 recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize in recognition of her contributions to the field of African American art. Awarded annually by the Museum since 2005, the prize demonstrates the High’s ongoing dedication to furthering artistic innovation and promoting research of African American artists and scholars. 

Based in Kingston, Jamaica, and Chicago, Patterson is known for her multilayered works in a variety of media that contrast beautiful, lush imagery, color and texture with darker underlying themes addressing societal and political injustices. Her complex compositions, which at first may appear celebratory, draw the viewer in to discover deeper truths relating to race-based class issues, social division and political violence. These interrogations explore the legacies inherent in postcolonial spaces, often memorializing and honoring the lives of those who have been deemed socially invisible or “unvisible.”  

Her work has been featured in more than 50 solo and group exhibitions over the past 10 years and is included in the collections of distinguished institutions such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); the National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston; Perez Art Museum, Miami; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. The High acquired her work “. . . they stood in a time of unknowing . . . for those who bear/bare witness” (2018), which was presented in the exhibition “What Is Left Unspoken, Love” (March-August 2022). Solo exhibitions of her work are forthcoming at the New York Botanical Garden and the Arnolfini Museum in Bristol, United Kingdom. She serves as co-artistic director of Prospect.6, slated to open in 2024, and she is the first artist to hold this position. 

“Patterson’s striking work commemorates the lives and struggles of marginalized people throughout the world. In doing so, she asks viewers to consider tough questions regarding social and racial inequality globally,” said Rand Suffolk, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., director of the High. “We are honored to recognize her important practice and considerable contributions to African American art with the 2023 Driskell Prize.”   

Named for the renowned African American artist and art scholar, the Driskell Prize was established by the High in 2005 as the first national award to celebrate an early- or midcareer scholar or artist whose work makes an original and significant contribution to the field of African American art or art history. Patterson will be honored at the 18th annual Driskell Prize Gala at the High on Friday, April 28, at 7 p.m., where her work will be recognized with a $50,000 cash award. Proceeds from the gala support the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisition Restricted and Endowment funds. Since the prize’s inception, the funds have supported the acquisition of 53 works by African American artists for the High’s collection. 

The selection process for the 2023 recipient of the Driskell Prize began with a call for nominations from a national pool of artists, curators, teachers, collectors and art historians. Patterson was chosen from among these nominations by review committee members assembled by the High: Huey Copeland, associate professor of art history at the University of Pennsylvania and 2019 Driskell Prize recipient; Naima Keith, vice president of education and public programs at LACMA and 2017 Driskell Prize recipient; Richard Powell, professor of art and art history at Duke University; and two High Museum of Art curators, Stephanie Heydt (Margaret and Terry Stent curator of American art) and Katherine Jentleson (Merrie and Dan Boone curator of folk and self-taught art).

Patterson holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica, and a Master of Fine Arts in printmaking and drawing from the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Solo exhibitions of her work have been presented at Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago; Hales Gallery, New York; Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, North Carolina; Perez Art Museum, Miami; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Museum of Art and Design, New York; Baltimore Museum of Art; Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia; and Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark. Her work is included in the much-acclaimed group exhibition “Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s-Today (Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago), which will travel to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, in 2023 and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in 2024. Her artwork was also recently featured in the Liverpool Biennial (Liverpool, England, 2021) and the Athens Biennale (Athens, Greece, 2021).

Patterson taught at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and at the University of Virginia, was an associate professor of painting and mixed media at the University of Kentucky and was the Bill and Stephanie Sick Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

In addition to the Driskell Prize, she has received an Alturas Foundation Grant (2020), the United States Artists Award (2018), a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Grant (2017), a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (2015) and an Andy Warhol Foundation Grant, in collaboration with Small Axe (2014).  

The 2023 Driskell Prize Gala will be cochaired by Brenda and Larry Thompson. Those interested in tickets for the black-tie gala may email driskellprize@high.org or call 404-733-4562.  

The High Museum of Art thanks our 2023 Driskell Prize Gala Sponsors: The Coca-Cola Company, JP Morgan, United Talent Agency, Peach State Health, Google and Wilmington Trust. 

About the David C. Driskell Prize
Established by the High in 2005, the David C. Driskell Prize is the first national award to honor and celebrate contributions to the field of African American art and art history. Past recipients include Adrienne L. Childs (2022), Jamal D. Cyrus (2020), Huey Copeland (2019), Amy Sherald (2018), Naima J. Keith (2017), Mark Bradford (2016), Kirsten Pai Buick (2015), Lyle Ashton Harris (2014), Andrea Barnwell Brownlee (2013), Rashid Johnson (2012), Valerie Cassel Oliver (2011), Renee Stout (2010), Krista A. Thompson (2009), Xaviera Simmons (2008), Franklin Sirmans (2007), Willie Cole (2006) and Kellie Jones (2005). A cash award of $50,000 accompanies the prize. Proceeds from the High’s annual Driskell Prize Dinner support the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisition Restricted and Endowment funds and other ongoing African American initiatives and expenses associated with the David C. Driskell Dinner. The current balance of the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisition Endowment Fund is $1.6 million. Through the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisition Restricted Fund, the High has acquired works by artists including Romare Bearden, Rashid Johnson, Radcliffe Bailey, Nick Cave, Willie Cole, William Downs, John T. Scott and Renee Stout.  

About David Driskell
David Driskell (American, 1931-2020) was an artist and scholar whose work on the African diaspora spanned more than four decades. The High’s relationship with Driskell began in 2000 when the Museum presented the concurrent exhibitions “To Conserve a Legacy: American Art from Historically Black Colleges and Universities” and “Narratives of African American Art and Identity: The David C. Driskell Collection,” which examined African American art in the broad historical context of modern and contemporary art. In 2021, the High organized the survey exhibition “David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History,” which traveled to the Portland Museum of Art and The Phillips Collection after its presentation at the High. Born in Eatonton, Georgia, Driskell was a distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Maryland, College Park. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University in 1955 and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the Catholic University of America in 1962. He also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine in 1953 and studied art history at the Netherlands Institute for Art History in The Hague, Netherlands, in 1964. More information about Driskell is available at www.driskellcenter.umd.edu 

About the High Museum of Art
Located in the heart of Atlanta, the High Museum of Art connects with audiences from across the Southeast and around the world through its distinguished collection, dynamic schedule of special exhibitions and engaging community-focused programs. Housed within facilities designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Richard Meier and Renzo Piano, the High features a collection of more than 18,000 works of art, including an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American fine and decorative arts; major holdings of photography and folk and self-taught work, especially that of artists from the American South; burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, including paintings, sculpture, new media and design; a growing collection of African art, with work dating from prehistory through the present; and significant holdings of European paintings and works on paper. The High is dedicated to reflecting the diversity of its communities and offering a variety of exhibitions and educational programs that engage visitors with the world of art, the lives of artists and the creative process. For more information about the High, visit www.high.org.

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