Artist Morgan Everhart on Making Art Personal

Morgan Everhart talking about making art personal
Morgan Everhart. Photo courtesy of Aaron DuRall.

For artist Morgan Everhart, art making has always been an important part of her day-to-day life. As a child, she could often be found drawing, painting, dancing and engaging in pretty much every creative process she could imagine. As an adult, that type of creativity has been central to her work, inspiring her to study painting at the University of North Texas before embarking on further studies at the LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Now working as an artist in New York City, Everhart’s work focuses on cultivating feelings or memories of people, places, and experiences through painting.

Morgan Everhart, Back from underneath. Oil on Canvas. 20 × 30 in. 2018
Morgan Everhart
Back from underneath. Oil on Canvas. 20 × 30 in. 2018
Morgan Everhart, Essence and surface. 20 × 30 in. Oil on Canvas. 2018
Morgan Everhart
Essence and surface. 20 × 30 in. Oil on Canvas. 2018

What inspires you to create?

I see something that I don’t understand and I make sense of it through creating. The process of making a painting doesn’t necessarily give me an answer, but it gets me closer to accepting the uncertainty of it all.

 
It’s so important to never lose sight of why you create and who you’re creating for. Understanding this and how to prioritize your time are the biggest challenges in being an artist.
 

What’s a typical day like for you? What did you do today?

Each morning I wake up, answer emails in bed or over coffee. I will check my calendar and confirm meetings scheduled in the next two days, check reminders, and write out ideas in my mind about upcoming projects to work on. I’ll make breakfast, clean, then get ready. I’ll run errands or attend meetings in the early afternoon or evening and paint before and after. When I paint, I will start on smaller surfaces then work my way onto larger ones.

How do you balance the creativity with the business demands of being an entrepreneur? What are the biggest challenges that come with both?

It’s so important to never lose sight of why you create and who you’re creating for. Understanding this and how to prioritize your time are the biggest challenges in being an artist. Opportunities present themselves all the time and you have to be open to contexts that will provide for you and your work.

Maintaining connections and a healthy community is key to balancing a career as an artist. Recently, I connected with Andrew Lockhart, an art curator who has been involved in the art scene of New York for the past decade and the person who introduced me to this publication.

After several years of being a partner at Anonymous Gallery, he left the gallery world and now consults and curates, working with artists as well as brands; his obsession with presenting art in non-traditional ways also informs his personal practice as a curator. He takes pride in connecting people with immediacy. He does this so well that he humbly disguises the significance of his role. Andrew loves my work and we encourage each other to learn more about art and create atmospheres for others to learn. I am currently working with him on a new publishing project that he will present in the spring of 2019 and will be the first artist for his “outside:IN series.”

Do you find it difficult to nurture your creative spirit while also addressing the business side of being an artist?

I like sharing my work on social media and hearing what people think. I consider what people are seeing and vibing with in my work when creating new pieces, but, if it’s too far from what I want to paint, I won’t do it. If it’s not honest and progressing in a positive direction with my research, I can’t do it. This has not been a big difficulty for me yet.

If you could give your past self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Read more fiction and poetry. Travel more.

What challenges have you encountered on your artistic journey that you didn’t expect at the beginning?

Until I moved to NYC, I didn’t realize how accessible and caring so people in the art world are. It’s really a community of so many talented people who help each other out. It’s really about finding people you trust and respect. If you really admire an artist, curator, or critic, there are plenty of ways to engage with them.

In this same vein, you can’t wait for opportunities to happen. If you want something done right and now, do it yourself. If you can’t get your work into shows, curate your own. For example, I will be the first artist for the new season of outside:IN, a project created by rogue + renegade. It’s an intimate evening in my studio for a curated group of art world insiders and some of my friends to meet up. We’re hoping this gathering fosters more relationships and conversations. Your success is my success. We’re excited to hear what people are thinking about in general.

What would you like to tell the world through your art? What feelings do you hope to inspire in the viewer?

These paintings are researching the subjectivity of the everyday and what is considered reality on an individual scale. I’m telling myself the same thing that I want to tell the world. So the paintings are talking to myself as well. I hope that my work instills a feeling of comfort in being vulnerable and romantic. I hope everyone sees whatever they want to see and I hope they are strengthened through expressing it.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you do?

Before I started painting, I was acting. I’d probably be an actress or scientist.

Do you think that artists are obligated to be socially and politically engaged?

I think the act of making anything is political and social. Artists have no choice in participating. They have authority in how the socio-political aspects operate hierarchically when a viewer engages.

What was a moment when you were very discouraged, and how did you get past it?

After graduate school, I told everyone that I’d take the first job I could get in New York City and move immediately. Soon after, I accepted a position as a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was a privilege to spend so much time with masterworks, but standing over 40 hours a week for little money could hardly pay bills let alone art supplies. I made terrible paintings during those months. There was even a former graduate colleague who saw me at work in uniform and mocked me. I would literally say to myself, “You can’t have the highs without the lows.” I kept reminding myself I was in a transitional state and focused on peripheral tasks to get me to better studio days.

Tell us about your next big project.

In June and July 2018, I will participate in a group show at Kathryn Markel Fine Arts called “Four Degrees of Abstraction,” curated by Anne-Brigitte Sirois. This exhibition includes four women: Myself, Cora Cohen, Suzanne Olivier, and Xiaofu Wang. The premise of the show challenges abstraction and each artist’s iconographic relation with nature.

Following that exhibition, I will be preparing for my first solo exhibition in a museum, “Flowers for my Failures,” at Longwood Center for the Visual Arts, curated by Alex Grabiec. This exhibition will display over 25 paintings. I will also create a site-specific installation of 7– 4 x 8 foot paintings on glass.

I will continue to curate pop-up shows and events in my studio and other pop-up spaces.

Morgan Everhart, How could I be so wrong. Oil on Canvas. 50 × 60 in. 2017
Morgan Everhart
How could I be so wrong. Oil on Canvas. 50 × 60 in. 2017