Christine A. Morgan-Phillips
A different world but keeping it creative: CAM the Artist, Christine A. Morgan-Phillips
As an empath and a fine artist working through COVID-19, 2020 was an emotional roller coaster. With so much loss and frustration in the world, I struggled to imagine my next creation. Everything I created at the beginning of the pandemic ended up being recreated. Over the course of the pandemic, I have fixed, painted over, and scratched into old paintings creating entirely new works, breaking down the old, and building the new. I have delved into more impasto, deep textured works, developed new color palettes, and even started playing around with fabric. My studio is my sanctuary. While painting, I listen to audiobooks, watch documentaries, and stream movies: it is pure heaven. When I am not painting, I’m walking the beaches with my two dogs and my friend Elizabeth Olson, a photographer and published poet. Walking on the beach in the fresh air, we talk about art and study the patterns of light in the sand. Some nights we are blessed with amazing sunsets, and we are reminded how lucky we are!
As the curator of 443 Congress Street Gallery, when the pandemic reared its head, I had to put everything on hold, including my creative energy, for a while. There were many unanswered questions on my mind. There are 40 or more artists showing artwork at 443 Gallery at any given time. I did not want to let down the artists, but I was mostly concerned with how they were doing and how they were surviving. I hosted a few Zoom meetings about how to use Instagram and why it is an important tool for artists to utilize. The meetings went well at first, but it was not the same as working with them face to face. As the pandemic has dragged on, I have reflected on my art, the Gallery, and where I see the Portland art scene in the future. I am currently getting back in touch with all the gallery artists (over one hundred of them) to reconnect on Zoom. While in isolation, I have realized that building a network and community of artists is more important than ever before. If you’d like to join a community of artists, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image at top: CAM, Heaven’s Divide, oil on canvas, 20 x20 in.
The New Normal: A Dialogue
As a painter, I begin with the horizon, its ever-steady line of delineation between the spaces of land, sky, and sea. In between are layers and layers of light and color, sprung from my memory but unbound by realism. I use a framework, a few rules around composition or color, but it’s the tension between what I expect and what the painting tells me that dictates the flow and finish. I work and wait until the profound shifting between place and memory stills itself harmoniously on the canvas.
My work represents my explorations of the elements around bodies of sky and water, particularly in Maine, the colors and moods. In league with the sky, the ocean has always fascinated me with its ability to soothe and terrify. It is a very solid, moving mass so easily shifted by the solid earth below it and the orbiting moon above. It has always been home to me.
2020 work followed the same rituals but became significantly more visually turbulent. Large physical gestures, wanton application of paint, manipulation of surfaces, in retrospect, reflect the seismic shifts in my personal and global perspective and experiences.