Tag: Margaret Morrison

November 3, 2005

Margaret Morrison
Patron Saints and Rituals
November 3 – December 30, 2005
Woodward Gallery

By the time painter Margaret Morrison started high school, she had visited almost all of the world’s great museums. Based in the Philippines, her family made a point of introducing her to art on their travels throughout Europe and Asia. “I felt as if my head had been opened up,” she says, “and all this amazing visual information had been poured in. I loved all of it but was particularly fascinated with pagan and early Christian iconography, reveling in the imagery and symbolism.”

In this breakthrough exhibition, Morrison, Professor of Art at the University of Georgia, shows just how greatly those rich, early encounters and her subsequent immersion in art history have affected her. Each one of these profound paintings invites the viewer into a mysterious and complex world where ancient rituals, religious symbolism and contemporary concerns intermingle. “I cast old symbols,” she says, “in contemporary language.”

She places her models, often family and friends, in historical situations that underline the universality of human experience. Brilliant technically, she as convincingly portrays expressions of confusion and love as she depicts a raging fire, a gun battle or the graceful purity of a lily.

Though called “Saint Lucy,” Morrison’s riveting portrait of a pretty, green-haired young woman in a sexy black evening dress hardly seems to be saintly. Looking askance, her subject appears quizzical and defiant. “I put her in gothic attire,” Morrison says, “to go along with the Mardi Gras theme. She holds a feathered mask with eyes because St. Lucy was martyred by having her eyes gouged out, for staying true to her religion.”

Like all her saints, Morrison’s Saint Lucy displays a striking individuality, less representative of a virtue than of a psychological state of being. “They are my personal saints,” she explains, “my own patron saints.” She clearly empathizes with these men and women, who struggle for life in the powerful “Saint George and the Dragon,” cherish a small bird in the tender “Veneration of Saint Barbara,” and look for direction as the man does in “Gabriel the Archangel”.

Taking as inspiration a pagan or Biblical story, Morrison then lets her imagination run rampant, finding connections between our own struggles with those of our mythical and religious ancestors. It is for this reason that almost all the paintings in her show seem to exist in a timeless zone where archetypal characters have gathered to act out their most private emotions.

In many works, Morrison’s palette consists of soft grays, browns, blues and greens and the overall atmosphere is dark. Though in the exuberant “Saint Cecilia,” who is the patron saint of music, the voluptuous heroine, silver bodied and blowing on a giant brass sousaphone (named after the march composer), marches across a desert under a cloud-filled blue sky, as bursting with light as the painting “Mary Magdalene” is full of dark foreboding. She does not see her subject as a fallen woman, as she is often cast by the Roman Catholic church, but as a brave spirit who prepared Christ’s body for burial. Proud and sensual in a blue dress, Mary Magdalene stares out from the canvas, asking to be judged on her own terms.

Morrison uses the triptych to reveal different aspects of the same theme, for instance, in“Finger of God”, the lightning in the center symbolizes an angry god, while to the left and right, lilies and a vessel, represent purity and the Holy Spirit, respectively. Then sometimes, as in “Saint George and the Dragon,” under the large part of the panel where she painted two figures locked in combat, she added a scene of firefighters facing blazing buildings, in their own way, locked in combat.

While knowing Morrison’s references adds to an appreciation of her stunning paintings, it is by no means a requirement to being swept up in their dramatic intensity. Dense, deeply felt, intriguing and masterfully painted, they draw in a viewer in part because of the honesty one feels in their creation.

As a young student a professor told her that she had to choose between being a wife and mother and a career as an artist. How wrong he was. “If I had not been able to tap into the emotion of being a mother,” Morrison says, “I could not have painted this way. I could not have reached this level of the sublime. I continually draw from the well of my love for my family. Without them I would have gone dry.”

-Valerie Gladstone, Contributing Writer for The New York Times and ArtNews magazine

March 6, 2003

March 6 – April 26, 2003
Woodward Gallery

Woodward Gallery is delighted to present the much anticipated next chapter of oil paintings in Morrison’s myriad of surreal characters.

This new body of oil paintings focuses on individuals who now search quietly for something unknown or unseen. They are in the process of finding center, whether physically, metaphorically or spiritually. Each work is a glimpse of the larger story going on within the scene. Morrison’s last major solo exhibition expressed flight on several levels. We were guided along our path by a mentor in a white lab coat. We learned through Morrison’s “professor” that flight was a metaphor for life-striving beyond mere existence; being tutored in a discovery of our individual potentials.

Now, as Morrison’s characters gain life experience, they turn inward, exploring their unique natures while contemplating the paths before them. The white lab coat becomes a symbol of self-awareness. Morrison’s subjects are at different stages of their awakening, as depicted by being measured for the coat, wearing it, and returning to it to restore center. Her subjects have matured on canvas as the years literally have passed.

Throughout the journey, Morrison expertly entreats the viewer’s emotional participation. She continues to challenge our imagination by offering masterful paintings which are well conceived and beautifully rendered. This most recent chapter of Margaret Morrison’s talent and vision deserves notice.

March 29, 2001

Margaret Morrison & David FeBland
March 29 – May 19, 2001
Woodward Gallery

Woodward Gallery is proud to announce the first dual exhibition of Artists Margaret Morrison and David FeBland. Small scale, oil paintings will tell their story in two complementary modes. Still/Life allows imagination to dictate the tale.

Margaret Morrison’s still-life canvases and panels tell a short story using her trademark interplay of light and shadow. A simple rendering of Cupcakes, for example, becomes the scene for a captured moment in time. Morrison’s paintings are created solely from imagination although one would think she sets a table and paints her study from life. By using familiar imagery we find comfort in her chapter and beg to read on…

David FeBland, by contrast, sparks his imagination with the constant energy and intensity of city life. He uses a camera to capture observations of his environment: living twenty years in New York and bicycling abroad for fifteen. FeBland’s use of the photographic instant activates a new vision to immortalize his characters in action. Life experiences make FeBland an exhilarating author on canvas.

January 2, 2001

Group Show
January 2 – January 18, 2001
Woodward Gallery

A brief group exhibition of Gallery represented and associated artists.

Featured works by:
Peter Apelgren
Susan Breen
Deborah Claxton
Natalie Edgar
Gabreile Evertz
David Febland
Hiro Ichikawa
Robert Indiana
Mark Mastroianni
Margaret Morrison
Terence Netter
Kathleen Raash
Maura Robinson
Drew Roth
Charles Yoder

March 23, 2000

The Theory of Flight & Painting
March 23 – May 13, 2000
Woodward Gallery

In her highly anticipated third solo exhibition with Woodward Gallery, Artist Margaret Morrison intimately examines The Theory of Flight and Painting.

Morrison’s surreal figures express flight on several levels. We are guided to our perfect path by a person in a white lab coat. We learn through Morrison’s “professor” that flight is a metaphor for life. In flight, we strive to go beyond mere existence; we are freer to push ourselves to our personal limit.

To Artist Margaret Morrison these feelings of flight are more apparent in her dream state. We are also treated to realistic still-lifes which take the concept of flight to a playful level.
Once again, Morrison captivates our imagination with her beautiful images and releases our own center of gravity.