Marriage and motherhood had kept her away from the artistic scene for a few years, but she is back with a bang. Not only is she is currently a board member and participating artist for the Association of African Canadian Artists but she is also a member of the SIX AH WI art collective, of which she was one of the original founders in 1993. She is also involved in the ongoing traveling exhibit COLOURblind?, the Association of African Canadian Artist's 10th Anniversary Exhibition: Breaking Down The Barriers of Discrimination, which is an art exhibition exploring issues of racial discrimination from a uniquely Canadian perspective. Oh and she also appeared on Breakfast Television and was interviewed by City TV last week. It seems like the horizon is bright for this visual artist extraordinaire.
Georgia Fullerton-Morgan was born in Jamaica and moved to Canada in 1967. She earned a visual arts diploma at Red Deer College in Red Deer, Alberta and transferred to Toronto in 1985.
After graduating from York University’s Fine Arts program and having a successful three years of playing varsity Volleyball, she began her creative career in the garment printing industry as a production artist; during which time she continued to engage in visual art.
Toronto artist Georgia Fullerton-Morgan
Fullerton-Morgan’s work evolves around the multi-faceted language of the human form; lending itself to manipulation and disguise with glimpses of its powerful, provocative nature. This she expresses in both abstract and representational images. Her paintings include images of the figure in hidden or obscure poses surrounded by objects that are relevant to her life experiences; this includes everything from athletics, music, love, relationships to visual expressions of self reflection and self evaluation.
Fullerton-Morgan works primarily with acrylic, chalk pastels and coloured pencil on board and canvas. The work, though strongly figurative, more recently includes self-portraits with a meditative or supernatural sensibility. She loves to affect her audience emotionally through the use of earthy and/or vibrant colour; usually with an abstracted background or a repetitive graphic design element.
This is clear whether she draws handsome Masai tribesmen or innocent babies. One of her most powerful pieces shows an African tribesman with a colorful Mohawk hairstyle, painting his own face. He is deep in thought and yet artistically creative as one can see from the eclectic designs on his face.
I sat down with Georgia recently to find out what made her tick.
How does it feel to be back in the artistic scene?
It feels right, first of all, but mostly I feel rejuvenated, and sometimes feel like now is the right time for me to focus on my visual art and show it off.
How has motherhood changed you as an artist?
Artistically, I understand more about my connection with creativity and why it serves as a necessity in my life. I have also changed as an artist in that I show more care in looking after myself. My level of patience and forgiveness is heightened; I can’t ignore the need for either of those as a mother and artist.
This is something that barely gets discussed when discussing visual artists, especially female visual artists but do you find it a challenge to balance motherhood and marriage with being an artist?
Balancing any one of those on their own is a challenge from the start! But of course, the duo of marriage and motherhood, I think is the most difficult challenge of all. Each requires a lot of your undivided attention and passion…and so much more! As an artist I have moments when I like to be on my own, this does not always work out with a family to be concerned about, so it can be a real test of priorities at times.
What inspires you as a visual artist?
I am inspired by the energy of other artists coming together to find a common ground through their creativity. Also, for me, I have always been inspired by the journey that I travel through life’s experiences.
What is your favourite art medium?
There are so many other mediums I have yet to explore, but for now my favourite is a combination of acrylic and pencil.
Can you please tell us more about the Association of African Canadian Artists?
AACA is a non-profit organization that this year has organized the art exhibition, COLOURblind? The association hopes to serve the art community as resources centre, where established as well as up and coming visual artists of Canada, can come for information, inspiration and knowledge regarding the marketing and care of their art work. In the future we would like to be able to host workshops and organize exhibitions within Canada and abroad.
You are a founder and a member of the SIX AH WI art collective which was created in 1993. How was this idea for art collective conceived? Tell us more about the group.
Currently I am working with an art collective known as SIX AH WI. In the past we exhibited all around Ontario and in Atlanta , GA. We have top secret project going on right now...there are more details to come that can be found in the near future on Afrotoronto.com. The title of the project is called “Genius Loves Company”. We have six local artists who are participating in this project. There is strength in numbers, and I think more visual artists are jumping on this band wagon. Sometimes the impact of a collective yields a greater interest for art lovers and the public in general.
It’s very difficult to make money from visual arts. Most visual artists I know have regular 9-5’s and push the art on the side. How do you make your bread and butter?
Well from 1996, up until 2005, my visual art was put on the back burner while I directed my focus on graphic design in the commercial printing industry. I worked as a graphic designer and pre-flight operator for IBM and currently earn my bread and butter in the digital print division of a large direct mail printing company. Recently though, my renewed passion for art has prompted me to have the courage to create once again.
Do you think the Canadian government gives enough/any support to African Canadian creative industries?
The government has always been sparse in their contribution to the arts. We have to continue to try and raise the profile of Afro-Canadian art so that we gain more recognition worldwide. Possibly this will make a difference in how the government feeds our needs.
Who are you artistic influences?
Throughout my life have been varied in their style and philosophies but they include: Dutch painter, Piet Mondrian, Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keefe to name only a few.
If your daughter India grew up with ambitions of following your path as a visual artist, would you encourage her to follow that dream?
India is already moving towards becoming a real performer so if she wanted to take up the arts in any discipline I would be ecstatic and absolutely encourage her in that way.
What’s next for Georgia Fullerton-Morgan?
Keep painting, drawing and communicating with other artists. I hope to complete some personal projects, such as a website and other promotional materials. Also, reintroduce myself to the world by letting them know I am ready to captivate the minds and souls of lovers of art everywhere!
SAMPLE of Georgia-Fullerton-Morgan''s work