You're an artist first, and then you marry an artist? So, how does that work? Is there a second when two "firsts" are involved? On April 12, Gallery 208 in Fayetteville opens an exhibit by two "firsts" in Situation and Location: Works by Katey and Dexter Morrill.
Katey and Dexter Morrill, both work in higher education, are professional artists and are happily married with one very young son. Anyone who knows the Morrills will readily report they live in harmony, share similar values and their co-parenting skills appear to be honed to perfect timing in all aspects.
The distinction is their choice of creative expression. Katey is a painter, schooled in the University of North Carolina -Greensboro figurative tradition — focusing on color as structure. Dexter's creative world is filled with his invented cartoon characters; "Game Night in Titan Towers," they are playing an electronic video game on a bright green couch.
Having an artist for a partner has its advantages. Katey shared how they both "were able to share their undergraduate and graduate experiences." During the long-quarantined COVID period, Katey decided to get out of the studio and go into nature to start a series of landscape paintings. For Katey, Dexter became a "major sounding board … when I questioned my landscape painting. His opinions challenged my perspectives, and while I do not always agree, his input made a huge difference in how I approached the landscape. We are each other's greatest critics and advocate."
Visitors to the gallery will enjoy the way Katey creates mood with color, mark-making and a pictorial push and pull. In an intuitive response to nature, Katey stated: "my mark-making investigates a combination of applied moments that exist as defined shapes while other strokes blend atmospherically. With attention towards intricate surfaces found in nature, I want the viewer to exist within the foreground of surface texture, searching for visual paths of contrast, chroma and illumination to guide them back towards the horizon."
Dexter echoed Katey's sentiments, how having an artist as a partner is special. "Especially someone with very different preferences and an alternate approach to creativity. It means you have someone that not only understands you and your creative impulses, but they also have a better perspective of your strengths and weaknesses."
As an illustrator and sequential artist, Dexter uses his talents to create characters who inhabit an unexpected and creative whimsical world. In sharp contrast to Katey, Dexter creates story narratives in his work. He shared: "I use my work to tell stories of adventure and heroism that evoke childhood nostalgia. My work is shaped by the stories that I experienced in the popular comics, animation, and video games of my childhood. I build my own stories and characters through my view of 1980's and 1990s pop culture aesthetics. Passing my ideas through this 'retro filter' allows my work to connect with others of my age group but also to reach out to inspire and inform future generations."
Visitors to Situation and Location will enjoy seeing what inspires Katey and Dexter and their approach to image-making. Their work is very different, but one has to be different to create what they do. At the end of the day, their commitment to share life and raise their child is a balanced creative lifestyle. It benefits them both, sharing all aspects of their life and having creative feedback and support for each other.
Both attended the University of New Hampshire. Katey earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing and an Master of Fine Arts in Painting at the University of North Carolina. Dexter earned a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art (Drawing) and a Master of Art and Design degree in Animation and Interactive Media from North Carolina State University.
Katey is the full-time painting instructor in the Fine Art Program at Fayetteville Technical Community College. Dexter shares his professional training by teaching a full load of classes between Fayetteville State University and Methodist University.
Dexter has recently co-published an anthology with V. Santiago titled "Jack & Beans" in Breakneck Fantasy Anthology #1, published in February. Katey has participated in several one-person exhibitions in 2022: The Horowitz Gallery, Howard Community College, Columbia, Maryland, titled "Wandering Towards Ipseity;" The Wayne G. Basler Art Gallery at Northeast State Community College, in Blountville, Tennessee, and the Jeanne Hastings Art Gallery in Pinehurst, North Carolina.
Situation and Location: Works by Katey and Dexter Morrill opens April 12 at Gallery 208 on Rowan Street. The reception is between 5:30 to 7 p.m., and the public is invited to attend and meet the artists – two real-life superheroes!
The reception is always a pleasant time to meet the artists, listen to a short presentation by the artists, ask questions, and meet other artists and art advocates in the community. The exhibit will be in the gallery until June 20. Gallery 208 hours are Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information, call Up & Coming Weekly at 910-484-6200.