Arts Writing Artist Features

Donald Morgan

Donald Morgan in his studio. 2012 Individual Artist Fellow, Oregon Arts Commission.

Photo: Sabina Poole

Originally published January, 2012

Donald Morgan’s sculptures are aestheticized versions of familiar objects one might find in the natural world in the Pacific Northwest. Objects like logs, hides, shells, ferns, pine cones are refined and filtered through Morgan’s process and finely honed craft. This has the effect of capturing the minimal essence of the thing, but often in a humorous way.

So a log might be a hexagonal tube, made of wood like the log of which it is an abstraction, but clad in masonite. Or, as in “Gentleman Farmer”, a tiny mushroom on a cowpie may be cast in aluminum, perched on a fabricated “log” which is displayed on a wood box. A “Hat Rack” might hold two international orange hats…and a wasps’ nest. “Snake in a Wood Pile” is a cast metal snake in a wooden cylinder that is crafted of a combination of plywood and an offcut of a log.

Morgan says he thinks of these objects as artifacts from trips to the wilderness that Morgan has taken, imagined, or drawn from fiction. Think Sometimes a Great Notion, for example.

Morgan, who teaches at the University of Oregon and is part of the artist collective and presenting organization Ditch Projects has had work in the Portland2010 Biennial and is represented by Fourteen30 Contemporary. Morgan says, “The fellowship will allow me to realize a large body of work made up of inter-related prints, painting, sculpture, and furniture based works, all thematically organized around what I can best describe as an imaginary nightmare about a Bauhaus-era art professor’s office. The pieces have been taking shape in my sketchbook for over a year now and are inspired by Claes Oldenburg’s famous Bedroom Suite as well as Bauhaus didactic teaching objects, such as three-dimensional color wheels.”

Courtesy of The Oregon Arts Commission.

Artist Credit: Donald Morgan

Exhibition: Oregon Arts Commission Fellows

Project Website

Oregon Arts Commission