Rebecca Morgan’s Portraits of Rural People Reference Her Upbringing

by Margot BuermannPosted on

Rebecca Morgan’s portraits of country folk are delightfully weird if somewhat off-putting. Set in hunting camps and other woodsy environments, the artist’s work is an exploration of rural and off-the-grid culture, featuring an array of eccentric characters. Her paintings and drawings bounce between humorous, ambivalent and grotesque depictions of everyday existence in rural Appalachia, inspired by the artist’s upbringing in a small town in central Pennsylvania. Check out more of her work on Instagram.

Asya Geisberg Gallery, who represents Morgan, describes her style as a cross between “hyper-detailed naturalism, influenced by Dutch painters such as Memling, Brueghel, and Van Eyck, [and] absurd, repulsive caricature suggestive of underground cartoonists like R. Crumb”. Rendered in a variety of mediums – from graphite to watercolors to ink – the mountain men, pimply faced youths and hippie witches who inhabit her world are based on general archetypes and people Morgan has encountered in her life. Morgan also features herself in provocative self portraits, although she has said that many of her subjects are incarnations of herself in one way or another.

Morgan’s art has been met with some criticism, especially from those who object to her characterization of rural individuals. And while she simultaneously critiques and embraces her roots, she has stressed the positive aspects of her subjects in several interviews. Speaking with Huffington Post last year, Morgan stated that her characters “represent a kind of blissful ignorance. They’re totally fine with looking so hideous and awful, it’s of no consequence to them. In my mind that gives them power – to be so confident and content, although covered in acne, wrinkles and blemishes, is the ultimate love of one’s self and self-acceptance. These characters are blissfully unaware, unruly, wild and untamed. They are off the grid and free and not affected by anyone or anything’s influence and I’m very attracted to that concept.”

Born in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, Morgan lives part time in New York City. The artist is currently exhibiting as part of a group show titled Second Annual 4%ers Exhibition at the Athen B. Gallery until September 2 and has an upcoming solo exhibition titled In the Pines at Asya Geisberg Gallery from September 10 – October 29.

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