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Clarence Morgan

Clarence Morgan at work

Interrupted Universe 2005

Interrupted Universe by painter/printmaker Clarence Morgan, published in collaboration with HP Editions and Master Printer Cole Rogers, depict amorphous black and white silhouettes layered with free-form drawing and areas of subtle tone. A total of seven pieces were produced in the collaboration with Highpoint Editions—two suites of three prints each, and one large individual print. Lithography, intaglio, screenprint, and chine collé were used in varying combinations to achieve a range of effects. Soft washes and graphite-like lines create friction against hard-edged opacity in a limited palette of black, brown, beige, and white.

With titles like “Strange Amalgamation” and “Faithful Manipulation”, Morgan’s abstractions almost revel in their ambiguity. Yet, there are stories behind the eccentric forms that dominate each print (for example, a recent review interpreted a group of similar works to have cosmological, biological, and racial/ social implications). Although the shapes never reveal their true identity, with each passing consideration comes the possibility of uncovering new layers of meaning.

The artist shared this sense of discovery as well. Although Morgan began working on this project with a general idea of the outcome, each composition is largely the product of intuitive, unplanned (yet well-practiced) artistic decisions. His sense of spontaneity was welcome at Highpoint Editions.

“Working in the environment of a print studio and having access to a Master Printer and print assistants allowed me to bounce ideas around,” said Morgan of his experience. “Suggestions were made and offered that caused me to see the possibilities in my own work from a different perspective. [Because] there was considerable trust involved while working at Highpoint, … it was very easy for me to communicate my ideas and make known my thoughts no matter how wacky.”

This free-flowing approach may seem risky to some, but Morgan found it to be thoroughly rewarding. “[My] artistic actions and choices are based on conceptual assumptions, which remain at best, slippery, elusive, and forever mutable,” he says. “Despite everything, out of this mode of working come moments of absolute clarity and sublimity.”

Clarence Morgan’s artistic accomplishments are extensive and varied. Among these achievements are an MFA in Painting from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; grants from the McKnight, Jerome, and Bush Foundations, and the National Endowment for the Arts; and inclusion of his art in museum, corporate, and private collections worldwide. His exhibition record includes more than 150 shows to date at venues such as Thomas Barry Fine Arts, International Print Center (New York), The Walker Art Center, The Armory Show (New York), and the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum. Morgan has been a faculty member at the University of Minnesota for over two decades, serving as Chair of the Department of Art from 2004 – 2010.