Makers for Makers: Morgan Dyer
When you think about an artist, you envision someone immersing themselves in what they do for the sake of creation. Someone that has the empowering force to transform feelings and memories into something that makes you stop in your tracks, wanting to know more. All of this is at the core of our next Makers for Makers feature artist, Morgan Dyer. Morgan and I met at Montserrat College of Art as students. She is admired amongst the community for her dedication and natural ability to mix stunning colors while she brings her paintings to life. Pulling from memories of locations that speak to the soul, her work comes to life not just through her brush strokes but her desire to find new ways to add depth and texture into her pieces. I am so excited to be sharing her work with you all today so you can get a glimpse into such a unique and joyful person who is really making her way in the art world. So, without further ado—enjoy!
Tell us about you and what you do.
I'm currently living and working on the North Shore of Massachusetts. I paint mostly large abstracted work that can translate into landscapes or seascapes, but try to avoid restricting myself with that idea. Medium wise I typically work with acrylics on canvas or paper and prefer to paint as big as possible. Recently I’ve been fortunate enough to take on some commissions, but most of the time I’m focusing on personal projects or finishing pieces for local shops that represent my work.
What pushed you to turn this dream into reality?
When I was 17, I remember sitting in a river in New Hampshire mimicking Andy Goldsworthy’s Elm tree series for a class project. I was really drawn to the quietness of the work—the intimacy between the physical movement and the subject. I think that moment was unusually pivotal because there was so much pain and loss going on in my life at the time and I felt this urgency to study the idea of holding onto a memory or a feeling versus letting things organically disappear. Obviously, I didn’t know how I’d later represent that.
What is the core mission behind what you do?
I guess my mission is to build stories the only way I know how. I like expressing personal development to an audience while investigating color and environmental awareness. My work can take on different forms depending on the kind of day I'm having, where I am physically, or what kind of work I may be doing personally. Heavy paint, transparent layers, uncomfortable spaces all resonate with places I’ve been and memories I have. There’s always going to be that technical drive to just to paint better and keep learning…but I like to focus on sharing my intimate experiences with people from different perspectives to see how their own memories interact with the visuals I present.
What was your biggest obstacle starting out?
I tend to bite off more than I can chew...I’m always guilty of doing too much. When I first graduated, I would bombard myself with multiple side projects. I don’t regret killing myself with a huge work load, but it can end up doing more bad than good in terms of stress and pressure. I think it’s important to stay busy and productive but if you aren’t careful you can quickly lose sight on your personal goals. I’ll still find myself digressing back to the habit of overloading myself or saying yes to everything—but I think I have learned to be more aware of the consequences.
Do you have any makers that have inspired you?
Yes, definitely...my Instagram is flooded with people and artists I admire. I’m also really lucky to be part of a supportive community of artists and friends who constantly push me. More specifically I’m inspired by Richard Serra and James Turrell’s ability to transform a space with such overwhelming power and presence...I love Richard Diebenkorn, Helen Frankenthaler...pretty much all the classic abstract expressionists. I’m really interested in artists who can deliberately curate a viewers experience or challenge spacial awareness.
What does your typical day as a maker look like?
I’d like to think my day begins after my full time job which luckily or unluckily starts at 7:00am and ends at 3:30pm. If I’m not committed to anything after that, I can typically get to the studio by early afternoon. For a while I had something scheduled almost every afternoon, but right now I teach art therapy every Tuesday. During the week I paint/reflect/prep canvases in my studio and leave my weekends for larger sessions, organizing, and communicating with clients. Oh also, afternoon coffee is definitely a thing for me right now.
What do you love most about being a maker?
Being a maker has a way of bringing people together, and I love being able to connect with like-minded people. As artists we tend to live in our own heads most of the time, but I think our commitment to expression and the vulnerability that it creates pushes us together. Overall I love the challenge of being a maker, and how my relationship to my work constantly keeps me on my toes. Having an outlet to share my soul with people is a serious privilege and when that moment becomes an opportunity to bring joy to a person or environment it’s a really good feeling.
What Advice do you have for makers just starting out?
I mean I still consider myself as just starting out, but I suppose first my advice is to figure out want you want to gain from being an artist. Everyone is different and has their own way of defining/approaching their work—it’s all very personal so try to avoid comparing yourself to others. Lately I’ve been trying to keep an image, book, or quote that will always remind me of the feeling I got when I realized this is what I wanted for my future…a little visible daily reminder. Right now, it is Agnes Martin’s letter “Advice to Young Women Artists.” Also...have a lot of coffee dates with friends and people who inspire you - staying connected is super important. If you feel stuck or are struggling it always helps to know you are not alone.