In the Studio with Morgan Everhart

Morgan Everhart's work echoes themes of memory and the passage of time through a balance of abstraction and traditional still-life. We visited Morgan in her Brooklyn studio to tell us a little bit about how she began her journey to where she is today.

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Where are you from?

I’m from Dallas, Texas and live in New York City. I was introduced to Natasha Arslean through Tyler Bishop, founder of Friend of the Artist, who asked Natasha and I to curate their Volume 7. We met over a video chat as we selected the artists for the publication, and I was blown away by her perceptiveness and sensitivity towards the artworks, the artist’s intentions, and the people she was curating with. She really looks and cares, and that’s rare in any field. 

I studied at the University of North Texas for my Bachelor of Fine Arts and received my MFA in Painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art. At the University of North Texas, which was close to home, there was a freedom to make whatever you wanted, because the focus was on the embrace of expression and a general understanding of what art is. However, the LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting at MICA focused on developing our own painting languages and professional contacts. Through every academic and professional experience, I think the pursuit of authenticity was and will always be a driving force.

Photo by Aaron DuRall

How has your artistic practice evolved and shaped throughout the years?

Since I took an art class in high school, I’ve been a painter and will continue to be one forever. I started with self-portraits, like every teenager, then moved quickly into appropriating my favorite painters. Now, I’m developing a dialogue with paintings, literature, people and experiences. I don’t plan what my paintings will look like, but they are ongoing conversations with each other. So, I plan the size and have some ideas of what might happen, because they are responses.

Photo by Aaron DuRall

How would you describe your aesthetic? Where do you get your narratives from?

I think about two things when people ask about message and aesthetic: I think about Mark Tansey’s research on contradictions and the advice I received in graduate school, which was to have an elevator pitch. My pitch changes over the years, however, my current one is, “R.B. Kitaj and Francis Bacon meet Joan Mitchell”.

Mark Tansey is a perfect example of an artist who challenges traditional genres and their hierarchies. I remember borrowing a catalogue of his many years ago and studying his chart’s of oppositions and contradictions, which are at the heart of his content. Right now, I’m developing something similar to his opposition’s, exploring the “intimate and inanimate” by mixing landscapes, portraits, and florals.

Both R. B. Kitaj and Francis Bacon’s work often depicts emotionally charged, disorienting and impossible settings with exaggerated and belligerent forms. I think about how they confronted their personal traumas and what would happen if they shared a studio with Joan Mitchell. I imagine they’d drink a lot, but I also hope they would discuss more about how they understand their natural and innermost environments.

There’s that Chuck Palahniuk quote: “Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.” I don’t really care about being original and I think the pursuit of that misleads people. If you want to be a part of history, you have to understand it and how you honestly relate to it. So, when I’m trying to understand more about something I see or experience, I paint it and it helps me live.

Verticality, 2018
Between Us, 2020
Like Distance, 2018

Do you have the audience consciously in mind when you are creating?

Realistically, my immediate audience is who I make the paintings for: my loved ones and colleagues. When I’m fortunate enough to share the paintings with wider audiences, I hope they relate my personal conversations on their own. 

What’s next (projects, collaborations, exhibitions, taking a break)?

Over the past year, I painted many groups smaller 12 x 9 inch paintings over shorter time frames of 1-2 weeks, called “Double Takes”. I also spent a lot of time over a series of larger 8 ft x 4 ft paintings called “The Four Seasons” and “Over Night”. I plan to reflect and develop some of these paintings and their conversations on larger scales this year. In the spring, I will have a solo exhibition at the David Owsley Museum of Art. I am also a contributing writer to A Women’s Thing, where we are developing some interesting stories and interviews on women in the art world.

Photo by Aaron DuRall