Through its Emerging Artists Program, the Columbus Arts Festival’s jury committee selects a few standout artists from the Central Ohio area who have little experience selling their artwork in outdoor venues. The idea is to support area artists and mentor them through the process.
“I’m terrified,” admitted Kate Morgan, a painter and photographer who is one of this year’s Emerging Artists. “I’ve been to festivals before, but this is one with 250,000 or something in attendance.”
Morgan works at Grandview Mercantile by day and in her lovingly crammed 9-by-12-foot studio at Columbus Idea Foundry by, well, whenever she can.
“I’ll draw anywhere I can get the chance,” Morgan said. “At restaurants I’ll ask for paper menus so I can draw on them.”
The 35-year-old has always had that drive to create, even though it used to get her in trouble.
“My mom used to go to parent teacher conferences and the teachers always said they were really frustrated with me,” Morgan said. “They didn’t think I was paying attention because I was drawing the whole class.”
But they did recognize her talent, as did her friends. Morgan said she recently reconnected with a high school buddy after nearly a decade of not seeing each other. She was shocked when he told her he had framed and hanging in his house a pen drawing she made for him in a class they had together.
Morgan has something similar in her studio — above the door is a marker and pen on cardboard drawing of a brown-haired, sacred-looking woman showered in a blue hazy halo. It reminds her of her path as an artist, she said, but the subject matter is also telling.
The women, and sometimes men, who now occupy her paintings and drawings look like they’ve risen from the ashes of Greek mythology. Morgan finds inspiration from the stories, dreams and aesthetics of old cultures, biographies, religions and folklore.
She’s not painting people — she’s painting souls.
“It’s not about something primitive, it’s about something primal. It’s more from the heart and the mind and the soul,” Morgan said. “I want to paint the internal, not the external.”
At this weekend’s arts festival, Morgan will be selling prints, paintings and mixed-media pieces. Stop by to glimpse her work’s unapologetically peaceful and passionate women, a reoccurring theme that references the maternal influences during her childhood, and something else as well.
“I always think about the story of Adam and Eve. She took the apple and, you know, she’s blamed for everything, it’s her fault, but she was a fierce and passionate woman. That’s what I want to be, but that’s what these ladies [in the paintings] already are,” Morgan said. “It’s a celebration of everything women have been accused of throughout out time and the things we weren’t supposed to be ... Hopefully there’s some of that inside of me.”