Artist Spotlight On Dawson Morgan At Art St. Louis And Best Of Missouri Market: 5 Questions

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

Several times each month you can find ceramic artist Dawson Morgan roaming hiking trails, rivers, parks, farms, vineyards—even along the sides of Missouri’s blue highways—collecting sticks, vines and grasses to be incorporated into her art. Back in her Chesterfield studio, Morgan presses the flora into the sides of her vases, bowls, pots and other works, providing a connection to the everyday textures we pass along our highways and parks. “I find it meaningful when art is created through a relationship with nature,” Morgan says.

Dawson Morgan bowl featured at Best of Missouri Market

Bowl
Dawson Morgan
Courtesy of the Artist

 

How a piece interacts with the light is as important to Morgan’s work as color and size. As she sculpts, she repeatedly rotates a piece, closely observing the shadows the work casts on her work table as it changes in relation to the light, which in turn influences how she sculpts. The shadows are part of the art. Morgan’s pieces have a way of not just inhabiting a space, but becoming part of it.

An artisan vase made by Dawson Morgan.

“MOdot Grasses”
Dawson Morgan
Courtesy of the Artist

 

She currently has work on display at Mc&Co in New York City, and in St. Louis you’ll find her pieces rotating through exhibitions in Wood Icing Studio Gallery at Chesterfield Mall, Art Saint Louis and the Saint Louis Artists’ Guild. Her work has also been seen at Chesterfield Arts, Atelier-Galerie Gaia (Lausanne, Switzerland), Le Petit Atelier (Bussigny, Switzerland), Global Galleries (New Orleans), and Millsaps Art Gallery in Jackson, Mississippi among others.

Morgan currently has a piece in  Under the Influence, Art St. Louis’ first juried exhibition in their new gallery, showing until Oct. 10, and her work will be featured in Best of Missouri Market, Oct. 4-6, a signature event at Missouri Botanical Garden featuring over 120 food producers, crafters and artisans.

Ceramic sculptural wallflowers.

“Wallflowers”
Dawson Morgan
Courtesy of the Artist

 

We had the opportunity to speak to Morgan about her work.

ALIVE: How would you describe your art in general?

Morgan: Nature is my greatest muse and the technical side of creating with hand-built clay my biggest challenge. I love making a huge piece that looks and feels whimsical, yet is precise in all the exact steps along the way.

ALIVE: What can people expect to see in your upcoming show?

Morgan: For the Best of Missouri Market, I will showcase my large signature botanical centerpieces, Raku works, and “Wall Flowers.” I am also creating smaller functional pieces specifically for this show. These incorporate botanic relief designed to hold orchids and other small potted plants.

ALIVE: Pick one piece in the show and describe it: Inspiration/meaning/technique…whatever strikes you.

Morgan: “Wall Flowers” are extreme three-dimensional pieces that hang on your wall. They are pieced together using recycled bits of clay and slip from larger works. This technique began simply as creative play with clay that was too dry for use within other projects. These pieces were hanging on my studio wall when a student inquired about “purchasing those Wall Flowers.” Ever since then, “Wall Flowers” has been more than just a personal project to recycle clay.

ALIVE: You lived and studied in Switzerland. How did that period affect your growth as an artist?

Morgan: We lived in beautiful Lausanne, Switzerland for four years. There I rented studio space from a local ceramic artist. The tools, clay, scenery, everything was different. The whole experience freed my artistic mojo and taught me not to give up. One day I was alone in the Swiss studio gallery. A lady walked in to buy a piece from the window. For me at the time, speaking French was similar to speaking with a preschooler. Using my childish vocabulary and poor conjugation, I sold her a piece from the window. For me this was an “aha” moment. I figured if I can do this in a foreign country with hand gestures and poor language skills, then I can definitely make it work in my own country with my mother tongue.

ALIVE: What are your near-future plans?

Morgan: After the Best of Missouri Market, I plan to focus on studio endeavors, my favorite versus sales, submissions and marketing.

 

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