Tools of Her Ministry: The Art of Sister Gertrude Morgan

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American Folk Art Museum, 2004 - Art - 108 pages
Sister Gertrude Morgan (1900-1980) was an African-American self-taught artist, evangelist, musician, and poet who used her diverse talents as a vehicle for and extension of her profound religious faith. Morgan's life and art combine the African-American tradition of autonomous expression with a remarkable inherent artistic sensibility.

Gertrude Morgan considered her paintings and decorated objects not art but rather tools for teaching the word of God. Settling in New Orleans in 1939, she became a familiar figure on the streets of the city's French Quarter, where she would set up her easels with paintings illustrating passages from the Bible and preach the Gospel to passersby, often singing in a deep voice and accompanying herself on guitar or tambourine.

Most of her paintings are religious in theme; many are literal interpretations of biblical passages from the Old and New Testaments, and her imagery is often richly apocalyptic. She frequently wrote messages or quoted scriptural passages in her pieces, and her text forms an integral and vital part of the total composition.

Like many self-taught artists, Morgan began to paint late in life, at the age of 56; she was not inspired by looking at other art or attempting to emulate it. What sets her apart from many in the field, however, is her originality, technical virtuosity, and highly distinctive style that demonstrates sustained artistic growth over a period of more than twenty years.
This book will accompany the first comprehensive retrospective of Morgan's work, at the American Folk Art Museum in New York and the New Orleans Museum of Art. It is the first monograph on this important African-American self-taught artist.

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Tools of her ministry: the art of Sister Gertrude Morgan

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A companion to the traveling exhibit of the same name, this book features brilliant color reproductions showing the revelatory work of missionary, prophetess, and artist Gertrude Morgan (1900-80 ... Read full review


In the Years of Sister Gertrude Morgan

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About the author (2004)

William Fagaly is the Assistant Director for Art and Curator of African Art at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Fagaly is the leading scholar on Gertrude Morgan's life and work.

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