After earning an MFA at Pratt, unlike many new grads who set up studios in Brooklyn, Rebecca Morgan returned to central Pennsylvania to paint. Back in Appalachia, where drawing skill and porcelaine figurines are especially cherished, Morgan has incorporated these forms into resonant paintings that can hold their own both for a sophisticated New York art audience and for the less privileged patrons of, say, an Appalachian coffee shop.
[Image: Rebecca Morgan, Depression Blanket, 2014, oil and graphite on panel, 28 x 22 inches.]
Though a native of Pennsylvania, Morgan maintains the critical distance she learned in art school, crafting sly self-portraits and depicting mountain men, stoners, and other backwoods stereotypes with knowing humor, compassion, and imagination.
In her second exhibition at Asya Geisberg, up through March 29th, Morgan is less in thrall to the snide grotesquery of Hairy-Who-ish or R. Crumb that infused her previous show, as she introduces a series of ceramic bottles adorned with cartoon faces that reference old moonshine jugs, as well as small hex signs traditionally painted on barns to ward off evil spirits. Morgan decries the new addictions in rural America–meth, junk food, pop culture–but clearly feels more at home there than in New York. This exhibition winningly demonstrates that at least some artists who return to their hometowns after studying in New York might find more original and compelling content than they would if they simply followed the herd and set up studios in Bushwick.
Bonus tip: Follow Morgan on Instagram here.
Rebecca Morgan, Hummel Hobo Bumpkin, 2014, oil and graphite on panel, 14 x 12 inches.
“Rebecca Morgan: No Church in the Wild,” Asya Geisberg, Chelsea, New York, NY. Through March 29, 2014.
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