Kanga for the Present


Ada M. Patterson
11 September – 31 October 2021: presentation in process
30 October 2021: presentation program at HMK (more info follows soon)


For their residency at HMK, Ada M. Patterson is making kanga, textiles infused with stories and given as gifts. Patterson is developing a new collection of kanga about an ongoing lived experience of crisis and grief between changing bodies and changing worlds.

Kanga making
I started making kanga during Hurricane Dorian (2019). My mother gave me this practice. Each kanga has a name—a name which prays, prophesies, hopes, wishes, blesses, laughs, mocks, criticises, warns, teaches, imagines, protects, curses—and you gift a kanga to a person for whom its name is meaningful. That is to say, you gift a kanga and its message usually with someone in mind. I started making kanga as a means to find what little words I could muster for what was happening across the Caribbean—what is still happening, what will continue to happen—in our climate-queered world, in our world queered by crisis.

A gift of support
Through the project, Patterson will explore how kanga, as a performative and visual intersection between image-making, textiles, clothing, poetry and communication, can make room to support the voices of those who struggle to speak in times that are difficult to speak to. How might one find shelter in the knowing gift of a kanga? This project treats our thoughts, words and experiences as gifts we give to the world out of love, whether our love is soft, tough or just complicated. 

Visitors to HMK will encounter an unstable presentation of ongoing shifts where a constellation of kanga keeps changing across the duration of Patterson’s residency, offering new, fragmented and disrupted choreographies of image, text and meaning. Further, Patterson will also be imagining a new performance guided by kanga, speaking to the grief and joy of changing bodies and worlds.

Ada M. Patterson (Bridgetown, 1994) is a visual artist and writer working with masquerade, textiles, performance, video and poetry, telling stories and imagining elegies for ungrievable bodies and moments. Patterson is the 2020 NLS Kingston Curatorial & Art Writing Fellow. Upcoming exhibitions include “Life Between Islands: Caribbean-British Art 1950s – Now” at Tate Britain, London.

Images: Ada M. Patterson, The Whole World is Turning, 2019.

Overview picture: Bart Treuren.