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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Student explores meeting of art and biology

    Morgan Anderson, a printmaking senior, works on a print in the School of Art on January 22, 2011. Many of Andersons pieces feature animal heads on human bodies.
    Morgan Anderson, a printmaking senior, works on a print in the School of Art on January 22, 2011. Many of Anderson’s pieces feature animal heads on human bodies.

    Editors’ note: The UA is home to a multitude of creative people. Each week, the Daily Wildcat will seek them out and let them share their stories and talents.

    Morgan Anderson is a senior majoring in studio art and wildlife conservation and management. The Phoenix native recently changed her art major concentration from painting and drawing to relief printmaking after being inspired by her classes with Shelia Pitt, an associate art professor at the UA. Since then, Anderson has had her work exhibited downtown and in gallery spaces on Fourth Avenue. She currently has prints and drawings on display at Zoe Boutique and Che’s Lounge.

    When I interviewed Anderson in the printmaking room in the Art building, she was wearing a dress with a pink carnation print, an apron covered in green ivy that was smudged with ink, and a pair of clear plastic gloves. Anderson was testing a new print.

    What are you working on right now?

    Right now I’m working on printing this linocut. It’s a relief print. … Basically it’s just a flat piece of linoleum and then you have little carving tools and you carve your image into it. Then you roll ink on it and press, and run it through a press with paper on it and then your image is on it.

    What’s that an image of?

    It’s a vulture baby. (Laughs.) It’s a baby with a vulture head.

    How did you arrive at this image?

    Usually for my relief prints for the last year, I’ve been working with the same theme where I’ve been doing people with animal heads in different situations. I’m heavily influenced by biology. I’m really, really interested in animals and people’s relationships with animals. So my theme is just saying that we’re all kind of like animals, no matter how hard we try not to be animals.

    I was going to ask you how your other major fit into the work you’re doing here.

    I’m really just interested in both subjects. Up until a year ago, I didn’t really know if I could ever combine them. But the more that I learn about relationships between different organisms, the more I’m interested in it. By combining the two subjects, it’s kind of like explaining it to myself.

    Was there a lecture or something you read that made the connection for you?

    I went to the L.A. County Museum of Art and I saw Damien Hirst’s earlier work, and he’s an artist that does a lot of work that’s heavily influenced by science. A lot of his works are large animals suspended in formaldehyde. I don’t know if you’ve seen them — they’re kind of crazy.

    Was there a specific work that had a great effect on you?

    There were two. There was one that was a great white (shark) suspended in formaldehyde. There was something that was sectioned, I don’t know if it was cow or something else. Those few that are just animals, they look just like specimens. I thought it was really interesting that they’re considered a work of art. And then I thought our body systems and interrelationships are so complicated that they’re beautiful. … I think that might have been an epiphany.

    How long have you been making art?

    I’ve been making art probably since I was 13. Then I had to take an art class in high school and I really, really didn’t want to. Then I realize I really liked it and that happened with printmaking, too. I had to take a printmaking class and I did not want to take it at all. I was really mad. And then after that class, I was like, “”OK, I’m going to change my major to printmaking.””

    What’s a class like with Sheila Pitt?

    It’s really great. They had a Wildcat article on her. She used to ride horses a lot and had an accident and broke her neck and became a quadriplegic. But she’s relearning how to move her arms, so it’s not permanent. It’s really strange because when I first went to class I was like, “”How are you going to teach the class, because you can’t really move?”” But she knows everything about printmaking. She’s just really honest and knows exactly what you need to do. She’s the best teacher I’ve ever had.

    What’s a recent print that you’re proud of?

    I made three oval-shaped prints two semesters ago, and I’ve shown them at four or five shows in the past couple of months. I was getting really, really tired of art, honestly, and I wasn’t inspired by painting or drawing anymore. So once I found out that I like printmaking, it was really cool. Once I made those three prints, I realized I really loved it, and they turned out really good, I think, for my second semester of doing printmaking. I don’t have them here, but I really like them. They’re like Victorian people with different animal heads.

    Are they done like portraits or miniatures?

    Yeah, they’re like portraits. I don’t really know how to describe it. But I brought one of my new prints if you want to see it. I’m working on four that are just babies with animal heads.

    Is there a title for this? (It is an image of two women with cuckoo heads, seated outdoors. One woman is feeding an insect to the other.)

    This is “”Stranger in the Brood.”” This one is about how I was getting into the interrelationships and symbiosis between different organisms and how we study it a lot in science. This is a cuckoo bird. They actually lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, and when their eggs hatch, the hatchlings are a lot bigger than the hatchlings of the other birds. So they push all those eggs out. The other birds don’t realize that they’re not their babies, so they raise them and take care of them, which is a really expensive process if you’re an animal. Raising offspring is really hard. So this is how people have those same relationships too, and I think it’s for almost the same reasons like survival mechanisms and stuff like that. But we don’t really talk about that.

    How did you get your work displayed at Zoe and Che’s?

    The first time I showed was in November. My friend found an empty space in a warehouse downtown, and it was really cheap because the owners, I don’t know why, they just let us rent it out for $400. Normally it would be $1,000. So we just found 10 artists who would each pay $40, including ourselves, to show whatever works we wanted to show.

    Once I showed there, I was asked to show in another show. Then I started to apply to different shows because I realized I should do that kind of stuff if I want to do this as a job. And one of my friends has showed at Zoe’s before a few times and he was looking for someone to be in a group show with. So he asked me because he was in one of my classes. That’s pretty much it; it’s just word of mouth and applying to different things.

    Does printmaking feel mentally different from painting and drawing?

    It definitely does. There’s a lot of drawing influence in it. But you have to think in a different way to do this because in all printmaking, you’re removing the color from things, so you’re kind of going backwards from drawing. So it takes a while to get used to it.

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