Arts

Situation and Location: Works by Katey and Dexter Morrill

Sticks and Reeds by Katey Morrill 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."

Game Night in Titan Tower by Dexter Morrill 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.

Event shines light on veteran suicide

16 Infinite Art Studio NC and the Fayetteville Bakery and Cafe will be hosting a two-day event geared toward shining a light on mental health for veterans. Artists Perform to Stop Veteran Suicide will be held May 14 and 15 at the cafe at 3037 Boone Trail Ext. in Fayetteville.

Live music will be accompanying a two-day market with local vendors. Saturday evening will be full of live music in the cafe, and spoken word artists will perform Sunday afternoon.

“We’ve already got a host of talent lined up. Musical acts Michael Daughtry and the Drift, Afro Dope, Gamalier Padilla, Judah Marshall and Jammin’ Jon will play free to the public throughout the two-day event in front of the Fayetteville Bakery and Cafe,” said Thomas Walk, president, Infinite Art Studio NC. “Special guests Franco Webb and Luevelyn Tillman will speak on Saturday. Spoken word artists Aaliyah Hazel Lane, Law Bullock and T.A. Walk will perform Sunday afternoon.”

The market will open at 8 a.m., May 14. Food trucks and vendors will be set up in front of the Fayetteville Bakery and Cafe until 6 p.m. The cafe will hold an adult open mic night from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The following day, the market kicks off at 10 a.m. Spoken word artists will begin to perform at 2:30 p.m. Events wrap up at 4 p.m.

Walk is a retired Army veteran who served for ten years. He was a combat engineer but became a bio-medical equipment technician during his military service. During his deployment to Iraq from September 2006 to September 2007, he had a moment that changed his life forever.

“In all my time deployed, I found myself fractured by one moment in time. Approximately 30 seconds of my life,”
he said. “I was in the hospital where I was stationed, and I happened upon a ward filled with civilian casualties. To be honest, until that moment, ‘enemy’ casualties never crossed my mind … However, these women and children were not the ‘enemy,’ and there was no ignoring that. I went the wrong way down a corridor and viewed this room and its occupants as I passed for no more than 30 seconds.”

Walk has suffered from severe post traumatic stress disorder as a result. For years he said he was heavily medicated.

“[I would take ] a handful of medications in the morning to combat the handful taken the night before. Years and years of betting on a cure that tore me further apart rather than putting my pieces together,” he said.

Suicidal tendencies were a side effect of one of the medications he was taking, something he says contributed to tearing his family apart. He decided to be pharmaceutically clean. He began to write. Walk published two novels and was working on a third when a friend and fellow veteran committed suicide, causing him to put the book aside.

But Walk persevered. He discovered painting. His partner introduced him to acrylic pour painting.

“We decided to try our hand together, and what started as a bunch of wasted paint and trashed canvases has become our wellbeing,” he said. “Along with my PTSD comes slight obsessive-compulsive disorder issues, control issues, etc. This style of painting is the most chaotic, uncontrollable thing I could choose, but I love it … Over time, we noticed the changes creativity had affected in me and decided we wanted to find a way
to share our ‘therapy’ with our community.”

The two created Infinite Art Studio NC to do just that. The studio currently doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar space, but Walk is confident that with mobile events like Artists Perform to Stop Veteran Suicide, they will be able to lease space by the end of the summer.

“Our mission is mental wellness through creativity,” he said. “We want to be a place the community can feel welcome and safe, and a place people can leave their illnesses behind for a little while.”
Artists Perform to Stop Veteran Suicide is the first of several events Infinite Art Studio has planned for the summer.

The event is looking for more performers and vendors. For more information, to donate or sign up as a vendor or food truck, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/artists-perform-to-stop-veteran-suicide-tickets-317236461797.

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