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An Artist's Duty: Morgan Overton's Reflection of the Times in Art Form.



Morgan Overton was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States.

Morgan believes that revolution comes in many forms. Art is one form - a powerful agent of change, and an educator of social consciousness. Her artwork widely commemorates the legacies of Freedom Fighters before us in vibrant, living color to honor their legacies. We often see these heroes in black and white, or through a past lens. Yet, the struggle for liberation continues and is alive today. Morgan believes we all hold the power of accountability to continue this fight, and she strives to make her Black and Indigenous ancestors, and future generations proud.

"Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go." - James Baldwin


Her work has been featured on Showtime’s “The Affair," Carnegie Museum of Art, August Wilson Center, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Buzzfeed, AFROPUNK, and varied social justice exhibitions in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and Culver City, California.


CH: Your work has been described as 'unapologetic' and political, do you see yourself as a political artist?


MO: I find myself adhering to a quote by Nina Simone, which is, "An artist's duty, as far as I'm concerned, is to reflect the time."


As someone who is heavily involved in advocacy, I believe art can be a platform for social change. Most humans are visual learners, and can find connection with things they can see. If they can see themselves represented, honored through artwork, it can serve as a tool to uplift.


CH: Your painting of James Baldwin is featured prominently at the Women On Baldwin exhibition by Les Amis de la Maison Baldwin in the South of France, Do you feel a special connection to him as a writer and voice of social change?


MO: There is something about James Baldwin that deeply resonates with me. I think he is often an unsung hero, and doesn't receive the honor he deserves in comparison with many other more "popular" freedom fighters. In writing, and in speech, Baldwin captured social life in such a profound way that echoes throughout time. I sought to honor that in my portrait of him, and am thankful that this word of art is living where he called home for the last 17 years of his life.


CH: Who are some of the artist that have influenced your personal style?


MO: My immediate thought is Andy Warhol for his use of pop art and vibrant color. I am actually still in the midst of finding my "style." Each portrait has a common theme in aesthetic, but they each carry individual characteristics based on the vibe from the subject I paint.


Portrait of James Baldwin feat. at the Women On Baldwin exhibition

CH: Most of us would rather buy original art *or limited prints of original art* than mass produced Ikea posters, but that can be intimidating and expensive. Does having your Etsy store make it easier for you to bridge this gap?


MO: When I first began selling my work, it was a mission of mine to make it affordable. Art should not be meant only for the wealthy to appreciate. Often, those who produce works of art are those who live narratives of the everyday person. The everyday person may find art to be their tool of expression. Therefore, my Etsy store is an accessible way for anyone to have the ability to purchase, appreciate, and become inspired by my art.


CH: What work do you have available for sale right now?


MO: All of my work are available as prints in my Etsy shop, www.etsy.com/shop/MoInTheStudio. I also accept custom requests!


CH: Out of all the commissions you've done which was your favorite and why?


MO: I have an emotional connection with all of my pieces because it requires time and energy to pour into works of art. But, most recently, I have completed an oil portrait of Sam Cooke. I learned how to paint through oils initially when I was in college, and this was a beautiful way to revisit that medium. Most of my works are in watercolor, which takes less time than oil. It took me about four days to complete the Sam Cooke portrait, but during that time, I listened to his music, watched the recent documentary of him on Netflix, and became more connected to him. That connection definitely played a role in my painting, and the final product.





CH: What exhibitions or events do you have coming up in 2019?


MO: I periodically sell my work at the August Wilson Center here in Pittsburgh. However, there are various events that will emerge throughout the summertime - keep posted on my IG, @mointhestudio to stay updated!


Artist Morgan Overton


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