The cover of the Arts Center’s fall class and event catalog features Above and Beyond III, a piece by local artist Jeromy Morris. Originally donated to the annual Benefit Art Auction, Above and Beyond III is a bird’s-eye view of downtown Lawrence that was created in fall 2020. Earlier this year Morris called the piece his “homage to a time when most went above and beyond to care for others in our community.”
In addition to his work as an artist, Morris also curates exhibitions at the Cider Gallery and owns SeedCo Studios. We spoke with him recently to learn a little more about the artist, his work, and his message.
What drew you into art? Was it a lifelong plan or was there an experience or moment that you recall that planted the seed?
When I was in middle school my right eye was injured, which left me partially blind with a scar over my optic nerve. Before this injury I was convinced I would be a professional baseball player–like most young people my age at the time. After the injury I was forced to see the world differently–not only the partial blindness, but depth perception and a whole other range of things that I had to adapt to. Shorty after the injury I got my first pair of inline skates, which would eventually lead me to going on several national and international skate tours for magazines and videos. Being a professional skater enabled my “creative goggles” to be a permeant fixture to the way I saw the world. Looking back, the injury to my eye was probably the catalyst to my creativity, in a weird way I’m thankful for that traumatic experience.
How did your process evolve into its current form?
I look at architecture and the terrain with a heightened sense of possiblilty–not only skating the obstacles, but capturing it on camera or video in an interesting way. While skating and traveling I would shoot thousands of photos, but never really was content with just a printed picture to revisit the memory. I began taking graphic design and art classes at Johnson County Community College and my professional art and design journey began. I worked for several companies doing design work for magazine spreads, clothing design and packaging, all while working on the backend on my own style of fine art. I started screen printing which led to toner transfers and the ‘analog photoshop’ process was my mode for creating.
What brought you to Lawrence, and how do you interact with the Arts Center?
I started studying visual communications at KU around 2003. I met my wife shortly after and we never left. I’ve always been in and out of the fold at the Arts Center. I’ve helped install the Benefit Art Auction, and I enjoy working with HANG12 by letting them occupy the gallery space at SeedCo and Cider. My daughter is a part of the HANG12 team starting next month, so I’m looking forward to seeing what they create moving forward!
What inspires you to create your pieces? How do you mix media and what that enables you to do?
I try and build a mood around a photograph that I find interesting. I still create in an analog photoshop type way.
The process usually goes something like:
- Activate a surface with acrylic wash and spray paint on wood panel.
- Toner transfer or several
- Cut several stencils based on the toner transfer image
- Finish with more acrylic wash and spray paint, maybe a pinch of gold leaf
I think a piece is successful if I can blend process in a way that the surface texture stays consistent with all these different mediums.
What are you hoping people take away from your pieces?
I think there’s a little something for everyone. A viewer might connect because it’s a recognizable image or thing they can relate to, since most of my work is photo based. I enjoy including small unexpected details within the piece that without a deeper investigation goes without notice. I think every artist wants to inspire or send a message but the human experience is so unique that leaving things open to interpretation is a satisfying approach for me.
What are your current and/or future plans?
I wear all the hats in the creative field. For the past 15 months, when I’m not in my studio creating artwork I focus my time curating exhibitions at Cider Gallery and keeping SeedCo Studios safe and afloat. I’ve started a conservation framing service along with a crating/shipping component to the Cider Gallery offerings. We also curate several local business in Lawrence and the surrounding area. I enjoy creating opportunity for other artists in our community. It’s inspiring to work with an Infinitely talented pool of artists and tinkerers.
Where can people find your work?
Be sure and make Cider Gallery and SeedCo Studios a stop on your Final Fridays experience. I’d be happy to invite people into my studio and give them a preview of recent artwork and works in progress!
Check out the links below for more information and to see more of Morris’ work!