Friday, November 2, 2012

storm drain

Installation view, Gasser Grunert, "Where I Have Lived and What I Live For"

Rebecca Morgan
Installation View: "Where I Have Lived and What I Live For"
Gasser Grunert, 2010
all works believed lost

I believe that some of the art I make is good. I also believe that my best work is produced when I am making a lot of it. In addition, if the project is well conceived before I ever put a pencil or paint to surface, the result is better. It is sometimes as though the work makes itself.

Right now I have a set of two unfinished paintings tacked to my studio wall. They're stuck. I keep trying to complete them but I remain indecisive. I have been working on them for more than a year. Sometimes the size and complexity of work requires a substantial period of time for completion. These paintings are neither complex nor large. They were incomplete from the get-go.

Years ago, my inability to complete these paintings would have rendered me unable to complete any other paintings. It wasn't perfectionism, it was ego and fear and procrastination. I would have fixated on how profound their narrative was, how complete they needed to be. I am fortunate that my practice has broadened enough that have I now have more ideas than time, and I no longer believe my work to be so weighty that a particular project's failure can hinder the production of other work.

I have been thinking about this a lot in the wake of Sandy, and her devastating impact on artists in the New York City area. I have several friends who have lost not just whole bodies of work, but also the spaces in which they create them.  News photos of Manhattan's Chelsea galleries and Brooklyn's Red Hook studios break my heart.While this devastation is certainly less tragic than the loss of lives and homes, I feel so sad for the artists and the hours of dedication and skill they had invested in their work.

But I am hopeful. The artists I know will continue to make good and perhaps even better work. All of their knowledge and skill will be enhanced by the personal experience of this loss. The community of artists will be strengthened by it. I believe this.

I'm looking at these two paintings again and I'm going to put them away or get rid of them outright. If by some calamity, in 10 years, my work was all destroyed, I would much rather go forward with the sense of accomplishment of having  made a substantive amount of work, good and bad. I would value the experience and craft gained in the process of making that work. The real tragedy would be in attempting, achieving and then losing nothing.

To all of my tribe who have lost studios and work due to Sandy, my heart breaks for you. But really... I can't wait to see the work that comes next.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

from the outside

[People Looking at Political Posters on Street, Paris]
Rudy Burckhardt  (American (born Switzerland), Basel 1914–1999 Searsmont, Maine)
Date: 1934
Medium: Gelatin silver print
Dimensions: Image: 16 x 23.7 cm (6 5/16 x 9 5/16 in.) 18.9 x 24.9 cm (7 7/16 x 9 13/16 in.) Classification: Photographs
Credit Line: Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, 2009
Accession Number: 2009.278 Rights and Reproduction:
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

17 highly personal reasons that I’m conflicted about the teacher’s strike...
  1. teachers must be highly compensated when they do good work
  2. everyone who has a job must be evaluated at some point
  3. individuals who cannot fulfill the requirements should be retrained or replaced
  4. the battling egos of karen lewis and rahm emmanuel... rahm you’re short, karen you’re fat...get over it and think about the kids
  5. there weren’t student teaching opportunities at my graduate school, because the school’s faculty union prohibited them (as we were told by our department chair)
  6. teachers should not be considered daycare providers, social workers or medical practitioners
  7. I have applied to more than 600 jobs in the past two years and have only recently become a part-time employee earning not quite twice minimum wage
  8. if you exhibit at mccormick place you are not allowed to plug into an electrical socket or move a table even six inches, the union has to do it - and they’ll charge you for it
  9. parents need to be responsible for what their children do - not teachers
  10. 12.5 million people are unemployed in the united states
  11. “absolute power corrupts absolutely”
  12. in general, negotiation means compromise on both sides - this isn’t about “breaking” either side - i highly doubt that either the chicago school board or teacher’s union will be voting for the republican party - and if you’re voting for the green party - well i have no words
  13. books absolutely need to be provided the first day of class - shame on the Board of Ed
  14. the NATO summit - what a colossal cluster and waste of time and resources
  15. if standardized tests don’t accurately assess current curriculum, either the test, or the curriculum need to change
  16. there should be air conditioning in all public schools, but you’re going to have to reform the entire system of municipal building codes, permit acquisition and construction in the city to do this...good luck with that...(yes, talk to any architect who has worked on the city’s education facilities)
  17. I had a plumber walk out of my apartment because we had installed our own dishwasher 15 years before...because it was not union installed. never mind that the job for which we needed him had nothing to do with said dishwasher

i will support the union because i am a liberal and unions are the only institution where many individuals can be treated and compensated fairly - i just wish we lived in a country where individuals were respected in such a way that unions were no longer necessary.

Monday, May 28, 2012


Today is Memorial Day. Originally conceived to honor fallen Union soldiers after the Civil War, the holiday now honors all members of the U.S. Armed Forces who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.

In 2005 we went to France. Paris was the main goal as we had wanted to experience it together for a long time, but we decided to begin our trip in Normandy. I’m so glad we did.

Seeing the tiny ribbon that is Omaha Beach and the lovingly cared-for graves of 9,387 soldiers that are buried there was a deeply moving experience. We were both moved to tears, and talk about that trip every Memorial Day. I’ve experienced the same complex emotions while visiting our National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia. There, almost all of the graves are identical. A military cook may be found buried next to a Colonel.

I am neither celebrating nor criticizing war. It is a terrible thing, I’m certain the 400,000 individuals buried at Arlington would attest to that. Every American should be required to visit Arlington. Perhaps it might give us some perspective when we plan the activities of our holiday celebrations, and what we might pause to consider during them.

And to those that have served, thank you.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

the till is dry...

Last Fall I again experienced the semi-vagabond life, having been granted two significant artist residencies.  Thank you to both Oxbow and Ragdale for seven weeks and more fodder than I can possibly paint in the next several years. I am particularly focused on the work addressing truth and fiction in memory and nostalgia.

Because my mind is preoccupied with the visual work at hand, I am finding it hard to put pen to paper for blog content. (Yes, I often write long-hand.) Frankly, it's been a struggle to write since my return to Chicago in 2010. I don't want Art & Thinking to drift away, but have had to seriously consider its future. What to do, what to do....


Among new and old friends, peers, and acquaintances there are some seriously talented writers. Thus, I am inviting submissions to Art & Thinking. I cannot pay you, but will fully credit you and provide a brief bio. The work can be fact or fiction, poetry, prose, criticism, and/or opinion. My only caveat being that it concern contemporary culture and the arts - preferably those visual.  Submissions should not exceed 1000 words. Please DO NOT submit writing that could substitute as a press release for your upcoming event  - we can include that information in you bio. 

In addition, I want to profile visual artists and their work. Here, I must admit, preference will be given to Chicago-area artists. But anyone may submit.  Artists should submit a link to their website, an artists statement and a CV.

Please submit materials, questions. and/or comments to  I will then contact you to discuss the post.

Hope to see you here!