Born in Dallas, Texas, Morgan Everhart works primarily in painting, installation, performance, and writing. Everhart’s practice challenges naturalism and ontology through reflection on personal experiences, identity, religion and art history. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of North Texas in 2013, and her Master of Fine Arts from the LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2016. Recent exhibitions include: Flowers for my Failures at the Longwood Museum, Virginia (2019); BLOOM at Millersville University, Pennsylvania (2019); and, Four Degrees of Abstraction at Markel Fine Arts, New York (2018). Everhart is also a contributing writer to “A Women’s Thing” publication. She lives and works in New York.
A Call for Transparency: Why Artist Morgan Everhart Favors Plexiglass These Days
Yassana Croizat-Glazer: Until recently, you’ve tended to work mainly on canvas or panel. What prompted you to start painting on plexiglass and how is it a different sensation?
Morgan Everhart: Working on plexiglass is a flourishing interest for me. The more I work on transparent surfaces, the more I understand light and the spaces my work depict and physically inhabit. I’m also able to save the integrity of my first gestures by being able to see them on the other side. This makes each move even more dialectical and intuitive than on a canvas or panel.
In 2017, I stumbled onto Visit to Picasso (“Bezoek aan Picasso”), a 1949 documentary film by Belgian filmmaker Paul Haesaerts, where Picasso paints on glass. Ever since I saw that film, I knew I wanted to do something similar. In January 2018, I collaborated with musician Nathan Allen to write a visual album and had my first attempt at painting on glass there. In this project, which we called, “Eyes and Ears,” the painting and music happened simultaneously, and so informed and completed each other.
When the curator for Longwood University’s Museum, Alex Grabiec, reached out to me to do a solo exhibition, he mentioned seeing the Eyes and Ears project and asked if I’d like to do a site-specific installation in their museum’s large windows. So in January of 2019, I made a 32-foot double-sided painting on plexiglass. The LCVA basically gave me the keys to the museum and I spent an entire week painting from start to finish. I’ve learned a lot from making that installation and I cannot thank LCVA and Alex Grabiec enough for allowing me to make it.
Yassana Croizat-Glazer: Unlike opaque supports, plexiglass serves as a conduit for light and color; what does transparency mean to you, especially nowadays?
Morgan Everhart: I love your questions; I know you really understand that changing up materials can be deeply intimate and serious for an artist. It’s important to question the constructs that define what someone creates, even for a painter’s painter. Transparency in communication is essential now more than ever in order to get through this pandemic and political climate. It’s imperative that I stay true to myself and show respect for others in everything I do.
For the past five years, I’ve worked on a series called, “Flowers for my Failures,” where I’ve buried some paintings I struggled with for years in juicy florals. On a transparent surface like plexiglass, I can’t conceal much, which allows me to be more accepting of the interactions with formal, conceptual, and personal references I’m exploring.
Yassana Croizat-Glazer: Which scale do you prefer to work in and why?
Morgan Everhart: I prefer Texas-sized paintings! When paintings are larger than the body, gestures become personified forms and most viewers are much more accepting of the illusory surface as a space to discourse. When a painting is larger than myself, it’s easier for me to accept it as its own entity.
Yassana Croizat-Glazer: Do you find isolation to be conducive or detrimental to your creativity?
Morgan Everhart: Isolation is a double-edged sword! And it’s difficult to wield when you’re in a pandemic or other situations that are out of your control. However, there’s a balance that’s absolutely necessary to maintain. I make paintings for my loved ones, so I need to hear their thoughts about the work. At the same time, I need enough space away from people in order to reflect honestly on them.