Inspired by architecture and exploring limitless freedom via canvas, Mesonoxian Meditations provides a fresh take on abstract art. Jennifer Morgan's new series at Carneal Simmons Contemporary is unlike any of her past work, mixing airy abstract backgrounds with meticulous geometric shapes. Her patrons include Neiman Marcus and the OMNI Hotel Dallas, which houses 86 of her paintings in their permanent collection. Carneal Simmons is hosting a cocktail reception this Saturday 5:30 to 7:30pm with Jennifer Morgan in attendance, so we got a chance for a quick interview about Morgan's process and inspirations. We hope to see you Saturday, but if you can't make it, you still have a chance to view this exhibition until March 25th.
What processes do you go through when creating a work?
When I'm in the studio, I'm all in. It's hard for me to do anything else, I eat and sleep in my paint clothes for days on end and often lose track of time.
I like to work at night because it's easier to tune out the world when you know they are sleeping. I usually have several pieces going at once because the work is so layer intensive. At times, I begin a piece with some sort of vision in my head but most of the time, I do not. Regardless, I want a painting to take shape organically. I try to create from a space that is somewhat detached from thought and more tapped into emotion. Especially within the initial layers and constructive process, it's fun to get lost. I like to work large, hone in on areas that speak to me and then edit and crop accordingly.
Being inspired by architecture, do you have any favorite architects or structures?
My work does have an architectural feel. I'm inspired by architecture ancient and new. I love old temples, pyramids and churches. There is a painting in the exhibit titled Iglesia. As the piece started to take shape, I realized that I was painting a church that sits atop of a hill on Isla de Mujeres. It's one I always stop and photograph every time I visit the island. I'm also a fan of mid-century modern architecture and design. I appreciate when architects push limits and use materials in interesting ways like Herzog and de Meuron. I discovered their work when I visited the Prada store in Tokyo. This leads me to my love for the Japanese aesthetic which I'm sure draws me into Tadao Ando's structures. I'm enamored with the spaces that he creates and his use of natural light.
How do you go about creating a color palette for your works?
Color has always been a strength for me and has been something that comes easily. I usually start with an interesting area in the painting then start building the palette based on a foundation that is present in the initial layers. I like to mix paints and colors on the wall where I am working. After years of this, there is quite a build up and I sometimes look to that for inspiration and interesting color combinations. I also try to pull inspiration from everything around me. I enjoy observing light and the way it changes objects and colors throughout the day. I didn't appreciate Monet's approach to this until later when I became enthralled with watching light and all the fleeting landscapes it creates.
How has your work changed through the years?
My work has grown and evolved just as I have as a person. I've created different series of work mostly motivated by the excitement of realizing a new vision or concept. I think creative people are bombarded with ideas and the hard part is choosing which one to pursue and then seeing that idea to fruition. I'm early into this new abstract series and I can already see it changing with each painting. Each series brings it's own set of creative processes and challenges, I like working through those.
What were the catalysts for those changes?
Most of my stylistic changes have emerged from moving forward with new ideas or the want to experiment with different materials.. For example, I did some paintings on wood because I wanted to play with the exposed wood grain. However, the most recent change into this abstract series may have been triggered by a mid-life evaluation coupled with the urge to create on loose canvas. At times, I felt restrained by working on a preconceived surface sizes and I was excited to approach the canvas in a different way and experience the limitless freedom it brought. When I feel like I'm getting stagnant, I sort though my ideas and move forward with the ones that generate the most excitement for me and that are realistically possible. Available resources play factor when deciding on which ideas to pursue. As a full-time artist, those transitions can be difficult and risky so there needs to be certain things in place before taking those steps.
What do you want viewers to take away from this exhibition?
Either to just be or to take something away that benefits them; whether it be a passing daydream, a different perspective, a new thought, a moment of relaxation, a second of comfort or an inspiration. No pressure, though.
What are you working on now?
As far as painting is concerned, I have several commission pieces in the works. Most are based on concepts that have a personal meaning to the clients. I have a long-term project that is always humming in the background, an installation piece for which I have been collecting objects for ten years. It's a slow process to work through all the art pieces that will be a part of it and I try to realize a portion of it when I have the time and resources to do so. I recently took on the role as the director of a community gallery and a block of live/work spaces for artists. I've been researching other communities like this and am in the conception stages of how best to utilize this space for the good of the arts and altruism.
Do you have any theories or concepts that continuously drive your work?
I strive to create from an honest place. Even when I was younger, art has always been a safe place for me to go and process my ideas, dreams, thoughts and feelings. I'm a visual thinker so I'd say that transference is a constant for me. Within that constant is the notion of always creating work that brings me some sort of enjoyment. It sounds selfish but I create art for myself and if someone else experiences joy from it; that makes it even better.