All That Glitters...The Art of Robert Morgan

by Phillip March Jones, Linda Blackford, Van Meter Pettit, Guy Mendes, Louis Zoellar Bickett II

Director's Note:

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 of 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 glitters 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, repurposing, and reinventing are the tools that drive Morgan's creative process.

The most recent incarnation of Morgan's accumulative process manifests itself in the form of a small army. Saints, warriors, and sentries -on foot and on horse- march through the gallery and into the street towards the eager eyes and faces pressed up against the gallery's front window. Created in conjunction with Lexington's EcoGrant program, this exhibition and catalog address the concept of recycling, both physically and conceptually. Morgan's work literally recycles and repurposes trash, but more importantly, it recycles memories, experiences, and stories that would have otherwise been thrown away.