Updated: Apr 10
We are so excited to share this short interview we had with Philadelphia-based artist, Morgan Dummitt. Morgan first started modeling the figure in clay at the Art Students League. She then moved to Philadelphia to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She currently teaches in PAFA's Continuing Education department. We recently caught up with Morgan to find out what she's been up to!
Q: Tell us about yourself.
A: My name is Morgan Dummitt. I grew up in Manhattan, where I started modeling the figure in clay at the Art Students League. I moved to Philadelphia to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. I've also studied at the Florence Academy of Art, the Pelletieri Stone Carving Academy, and apprenticed with an Italian marble carver. I currently teach in PAFA's Continuing Education department. Developing and expanding my craft is critical to my practice, and with any kind of luck I will continue to find more people to share and study with.
Q: When did you first become an artist?
A: I don't know if there is a single moment when anyone becomes an artist, in retrospect it was probably always going to be what I did with my life. Like most people who go to art school I was very involved in drawing and making things throughout childhood. During my time at the Pennsylvania Academy I became very serious about studying and improving my technical skills, but that does not necessarily make you a very interesting artist. The realizations that I could express ideas and feelings through a visual language, that I had things to express, and what form that visual language might take, were the deciding elements, and they crystallized over the space of many years.
Q: What artists inspire you?
A: I don't look at very many contemporary artists for inspiration, though there are certainly a lot of excellent artists working with the figure today. The idea of making work that is self-consciously contemporary, or non-contemporary, never really occurs to me. If something was interesting and beautiful and meaningful 2,000 years ago, it probably still is, though of course context changes. Some of the artists I look at for inspiration include Veit Stoss, Ivan Mestrovic, Alfred Gilbert, Michaelangelo, William Ernest Reynolds-Stephens, Augustus St Gaudens, and Alessandro Algardi, among many, many others. Half of the pleasure of being an artist is spending time over the course of years with beloved works of art, of which there are always many more to discover.
Q: What obstacles do you face making and exhibiting your work?
A: There are a number of practical issues involved with being an object-based sculptor working with traditional materials. Making sculpture outside of commissions can be very expensive and labor intensive, from obtaining and transporting stone, to casting bronze, to the considerable time required to make each peace. Because of this sculpture tends to be relatively expensive in a gallery setting, and not everyone has space for three dimensional work. While I've been fortunate to be able to exhibit my work widely, I sometimes wish it was lighter, smaller, cheaper, and less fragile!
Q: Do you have any advice for other artists trying to become established?
A: I would suggest that anyone who wants to be a professional artist should be rigorous about their studio practice. Whatever amount of time you can spend in the studio each day, whether it's an hour or all day, be there, as often as possible. I do not wait for inspiration or the right mood; these things are fine if art-making is not your livelihood, but if it is, plan your time so that you are consistently producing work. That way when the commission comes around you will have a generous portfolio, when an opportunity to show in a gallery appears you will have plenty of new work to submit, and if someone wanders into your studio, they might see something that they want to take home with them. Also, it's hopefully fun!
Q: What are you working on now, and what are your plans for the future?
A: I am currently preparing a half life-sized clay model for a two figure composition tentatively titled “The Maker of Golems”. When I finish with the clay, I will cast it in plaster, and then translate it to marble. I tend to rotate pretty evenly between cast and carved work, though I have been doing more and more carving as my practice evolves, and I see myself going in that direction for the moment. 2020 was a challenging year for me because several commissioned projects were canceled, but that has given me a lot of down time to pursue personal work, which is also very important to me.
Thank you Morgan! To learn more about Morgan and her work, visit https://morgandummitt.com/home.html.
"Caryatid", Marble and Gilt Bronze, 47 x 23 x 13."
"Furies", Silvered Bronze, 33 x 24."
"Harbinger", Marble and Silvered Bronze, 29 x 9 x 9."
"Portrait of a Young Woman", Marble, 19 x 12 x 11."
"Portrait of Cooper", marble, 15 x 7 x 7."