When Jenny Morgan worked at Ghost Ranch in the 1990s, one of the perks of the job was being able to take classes with the visiting artists who taught there. When a master of Polish papercutting visited at the New Mexico facility, Morgan was intrigued. She never imagined that the craft technique would form the foundation for a serious artistic practice.
Morgan’s newest papercuts will be on exhibit in the East Oregonian Gallery at the Pendleton Center for the Arts in October, beginning with a reception for the artist on Thursday, Oct. 4 from 5:30–7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, thanks to support from Coldwell Banker/Whitney & Associates.
Polish papercuts – wycinanki (pronounced vee-chee-non-key) – were traditionally made by peasants to decorate their cottages. They depicted scenes from everyday life and special events like weddings and holidays. It was an inexpensive way in the mid-19th century to decorate homes, and women often worked with sheep-shearing scissors.
In creating her contemporary images, Morgan uses tiny manicure scissors, working meticulously for hours at a time. Starting with drawings she’s made on the back of special, flexible yet strong paper, she sometimes folds the paper into halves or quarters to create symmetry side to side or top to bottom. Her designs are inspired from a range of influences, from favorite musicians and songs, to characters from literature, to chance encounters. Visitors to the gallery can use their smart phones to listen to Morgan talk about each piece, and sometimes, listen to the songs that served as inspiration.
Morgan’s work was noticed many years ago by the PCA staff and board members at different charity auctions. She was generous in donating her framed images to support local nonprofits and families in need but didn’t see herself as an artist. In 2008 she was invited to exhibit small pieces in the Lorenzen Board Room Gallery, and for the first time, buoyed by the response she got from viewers and buyers, she understood that she was doing important work. Last year, the exhibit committee at the Pendleton Center for the Arts recognized that the work she was doing warranted an invitation to exhibit in the East Oregonian Gallery, a space reserved for established artists, and she started in on the major body of work that visitors will see
Concurrent with the East Oregonian Gallery exhibit, Brian Purnell and Alice Thomas will have work on display in the Lorenzen Board Room Gallery. Admission to both exhibits, as well as the Pendleton Foundation Trust Fine Craft Gallery, are always free, thanks to support from local individuals and businesses.
More information is available on the PCA website.