Margaret Morrison: Toys in the Attic


Margaret Morrison created a series of oil paintings called Child’s Play that vividly animates all of those toys up in my mother’s attic. Morrison lives and paints in Athens, Georgia. She is an Associate Professor of drawing and painting at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia. She was profiled previously for her series Larger than Life.

Surrender cats_eyes menace encounter1 Ophelia encounter2

How do you approach your artwork today compared to early in your career? In many ways my approach has remained somewhat constant. I still draw on my life’s experiences, using friends and family as models. One can pretty much watch my children grow up in my paintings over the last 25 years. In addition, I’ve always been enamored by shiny, translucent, reflective objects which harken back to Dutch still-lifes which I have loved ever since I first saw them in the museums of Europe. I traveled extensively with my family when I was a little girl. I’m equally in love with a stage-like lighting. Something mysterious and magical happens when you take the simplest, most mundane object and throw a light source on it.

Over the years I have also loved working in oils; but honestly, lately I had gotten to the point where I understood the materials so well, that few surprises or “artistic accidents” found their way into my paintings. So, last year I wrote a proposal and was awarded a faculty research grant allowing me to purchase a vast assortment of acrylic paints and mediums. This definitely has started pushing me into new territory as I’ve tried to get my head wrapped around an entirely new medium…. a medium which holds untold surprises and frustrations. I’m finding that I’m thinking differently, I’m more willing to destroy and then work back into a piece, layering one transparent layer over the top of another. So far, I’ve been excited about this brand new adventure and I’ve been pleased with the results.

How do your two worlds as a Mormon and an artist fit together? Years ago when I was a graduate student and a young mother of two, one of my committee members came into my studio and said, “So, what’s it going to be, an art career or the picket fence?” My reaction was, “Hey buddy, just watch me do both! And who said I had to choose. God gave me this fire in my belly and I figured that He expected me to do something with it. I was also certain that my family was my greatest joy and that I could figure out how to balance my career and my family. Now looking back, my four children and my wonderful husband have loved the journey, being a part of my grand adventure has blessed all of our lives. Every time I have an opening, we all head up to New York City to celebrate together. One of the most wonderful perks of my faculty position at the University of Georgia is teaching for the Cortona, Italy Study Abroad program. As a matter of fact, my husband (who is a chemistry professor at UGA) and I teach a course that we designed together. Our course, PropART (Properies of Art and Restoration Techniques) covers the chemistry of art processes and conservation.

Images courtesy Margaret Morrison/Woodward Gallery.

Visit Woodward Gallery’s website.