Robert Morgan – Way beyond trash assemblage
Bob Morgan’s work is fantastical and trashy, both literally and figuratively. What at first may seem to be a bright and busy pile of spray-painted stuff, upon a moment’s closer inspection, becomes incredibly complicated, steeped in meaning, fascinating, and intense.
Honestly, some people will hate his work. It is certainly busy and very plastic. The bright colors and jumble of it all can be hard on the eyes. No question that it is a conglomeration of trash. But Morgan often draws on religious imagery from around the globe, adds a wry sense of humor and biting social commentary, and comes up with pieces that are diverting and mesmerizing.
A description of his work in the catalogue for his gallery show last spring at Institute 193 in Lexington, KY, describes Morgan’s work:
“Robert Morgan began his art career as a scavenger collecting photos, personal mementos and everyday objects from the homes of young gay men who were the victims of AIDS, alcoholism and drug abuse. These objects, regardless of their original significance, were routinely abandoned or thrown away by families that had little use for the remainders their sons’ lives. Blessed with a strong sense of curiosity and a perverse Midas touch, Morgan was able to turn those banal objects into works of art through a complex method of assemblage and adornment. Objects are wrapped, glued and nailed together – infused with religious and personal iconography – and then covered in a thick layer of polyurethane making them glisten and shine like glass. But all that glitters…
“Is not gold. It is garbage, junk, trash, detritus, personal, anonymous and all but completely forgotten. It is bottle caps, construction netting, baby dolls and caution tape. But it glitters all the same. The show’s title, All That Glitters… is an abbreviated misquote from Shakespeare’s original line, “All that glisters is not gold.” Morgan’s work is the result of a lifelong accumulation of tangible “quotes” – objects taken from the piles of what is left after their original lives have ended. These objects of all shapes and sizes make their way to Morgan’s studio and are reassigned meaning by the artist, assembled into the massive altar in the living room, piled in the bedroom or tacked onto a work in progress. Misquoting, re-purposing, re-inventing are the tools that drive Morgan’s creative process.”
Please visit the site for the All the Glitters show. A virtual copy of the accompanying book is posted there, with many more images. The work is truly extraordinary. It expanded my idea of what recycling is and how to repurpose materials. Here are a few more images.