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Art major Jesse Morgan IV ’05 (Amherst, Mass.) arrived at Lafayette intending to major in economics and business, but soon realized that art was his calling.

“All my life, I’ve always been drawing and doodling,” he says. “I got into painting during my senior year in high school. Once I got to Lafayette I took an art class pretty much every semester, as I was taking my economics classes.”

Eventually he realized he’d rather pursue art wholeheartedly. “I figured, why not do what I love?” he says.

Morgan says he nearly always begins each of his paintings and sculptures with a simple, clear mental picture. Then gradually, purposefully, he adds complexity to the vision, making it less clear, more enigmatic.

“I like to take realistic things and distort them,” says Morgan.

He just completed an internship that began in the summer in which he served as an assistant to sculptor Jim Toia, director of the art department’s community-based teaching program and Lafayette’s Williams Visual Arts Building’s Grossman Gallery.

He also has worked at bringing his altered visions into reality in two independent study courses, creating a “transcendental chair” of twigs and branches for the City of Easton’s (Pa.) Breast Cancer Awareness Garden and painting vibrantly colored “surreal, cartoony, comic-book-animation-style” pieces in oil and displaying them in the Williams Visual Arts Building.

Morgan, along with Michael Cahn ’04 (Woodbury, N.Y.), who produced a stone sculpture, joined members of the Women in Business Council and the Two Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce to unveil their work in the Breast Cancer Awareness Garden.

Morgan says the chair sculpture, titled “Reflection,” evolved from a set of preliminary drawings to several models that he presented to a five-member committee from the Women in Business Council. After committee members selected one of the models, Morgan went to work on the full-size piece, crafting a chair from twigs and branches, carving a spiral vine pattern into the bark, and placing the work atop a nine-foot-high tree. “I wanted to go with a natural look,” he says.

Morgan was inspired to create “Reflection,” which faces the Delaware River, by “the transcendental meditative experience of facing a major life battle.”

Alastair Noble, assistant professor of art and Morgan’s adviser for the independent study in sculpture, describes the work as “out of the box.”

Ed Kerns, Eugene H. Clapp II ’36 Professor of Art and Morgan’s adviser for his independent study in painting, says Morgan’s work, which includes mostly medium- to large-scale landscapes, has an “anthropomorphic,” or humanlike, quality.

Morgan, a graduate of Williston-Northampton School, says Lafayette’s art faculty and the facilities at the Williams Visual Arts Building, including personal studio space, made the decision to major in art much easier.

“I absolutely love the art department here,” he says. “Any materials we want are right in front of us. Any help we need is right there.”

Morgan adds that he’s benefited both from Lafayette’s dedicated faculty and from the local and visiting artists who work in the Visual Arts Building and display their pieces in the gallery.

“They’ve taught me so much, even little things, like art vocabulary and little tricks I can use,” he says.

Categorized in: Academic News