Stop Me Feeling is Claire Morgan’s inaugural solo show in the United States. Frist Center curator Trinita Kennedy discovered her work at Art Basel Miami and organized an exhibition of six recent works by Morgan, showcasing an intricate installation, cabinet sculptures, and works on paper and canvas.
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and currently living and working in Newcastle, England, Morgan has lived in many urban areas and developed a curiosity as to how animals adapt to our own manufactured world. Her work ruminates on our complex relationship with the natural world. She is able to create breathtaking encounters between humans and animals, and life and death. Refusing to prescribe a precise message about her artwork, Morgan invites viewers to contemplate these ideas of beauty and destruction, environmentalism, artificiality, and transience.
Appropriate for Music City, Morgan often borrows titles and lyrics from songs and poems for her artwork. The Exhibition’s title Stop Me Feeling finds its roots in a song made famous by Johnny Cash.
Her signature works include organic and inorganic elements, such as taxidermied animals, insects, bits of plastic, and dandelion seeds. She then creates a three-dimensional geometric shapes of varying scales utilizing nylon thread. Within these complex and colorful geometries, Morgan creates a narrative with animals wandering in and out of these etherial forms.
A self-taught taxidermist, Morgan finds animals after they have been killed or died from natural causes. Curator Trinita Kennedy takes note of “The reverence with which she preserves the dead animals through taxidermy,” and how it “sharply contrasts with the carelessness of other humans toward them while they were alive.”
Within You, Without You is a cabinet sculpture displaying a small dunnock bird hidden among a jungle of brightly colored polythene. This foraging bird that often depends on camouflaging itself within trees is left feeling oddly vulnerable amidst this safely dense, yet threateningly colorful environment. The sculpture’s title is borrowed from George Harrison’s song on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
If You Go Down To The Woods Today occupies its own entire room at the Frist, featuring a muntjack (a tiny deer native to the UK) following three butterflies into an overwhelming geometric cloud of orange polythene suspended on nylon thread. The massive installation’s title features borrowed lyrics from “Teddy Bears’ Picnic,” an ominous children’s song that warns “If you go down to the woods today, you better not go alone…It’s safer to stay at home.” Morgan refuses to tell viewers how to think, but successfully introduces a new perspective on ourselves and the world around us.
Claire Morgan’s exhibit Stop Me Feeling will be on display at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts from February 10 through May 7. See more of Morgan’s work at www.claire- morgan.co.uk.