Morgan Elser was born with a creative spirit that has always been an important part of her life. Growing up in Central Illinois, she always enjoyed art, but it was a relaxing pastime rather than a career direction. She would frequently be seen sketching something, and enjoyed designing and sewing clothing. Later, as people recognized her flair for decorating, she also extended her artistic touch to interior design. But, her talent for sculpting remained hidden for years.
When you visit the Morgan Elser Gallery in historic downtown Delavan, Illinois, you can’t help but be impressed with the beautiful details in her sculptures. The space is filled with the fruits of her creativity in a variety of mediums including sculptures in fabric, clay and bronze. But, it’s even more amazing when you realize that she just discovered her talent for sculpting just a few years ago.
Looking back, it might seem like a logical progression. Sketching led to designing clothing, and clothing led to creating art dolls. It was the search for art doll materials that prompted her to try sculpting. She bought some clay and a book, studied the instructions in the book and then sat down one evening to try her hand at sculpting. She was astonished to see the head of a little old man emerge from the clay, and showed the result to her husband John saying, “Look what came out of my hands!”
That moment was when she realized that she had a gift for sculpting, and it created a whole new direction in her life. She quickly expanded her skills by trying new mediums and techniques. She studied sculpture with renowned artist Preston Jackson, and was invited by Jackson to give a guest lecture at the Chicago Arts Institute.
Morgan’s creative process varies depending on the project. With her portrait sculptures, such as the bust of a young Abraham Lincoln or astronaut Scott Altman, her focus is to “capture the life in their eyes.” On the other hand, her character pieces are driven by a picture in her head. She describes the pictures as being very detailed, and once they come to her, they don’t change. Her hands simply recreate the image in her mind.
Always driven to learn something new, Morgan has recently tried her hand at painting. When she paints, she doesn’t start with an end result in mind. Instead, she starts with a choice of colors, and then begins working the colors onto the canvas until the result emerges.
So, don’t try telling Morgan that you can’t do something without having tried it. She knows better. You don’t know what you can do until you try, and you might be amazed at the result.
Whether she’s sculpting, painting, sewing, designing, teaching, promoting or simply encouraging others, art is a constant in Morgan Elser’s life.
Visit Morgan Elser’s Gallery at 311 Locust Street in Delavan, Illinois to view her work along with jewelry, paintings and photography from other selected local artists. Visit her website at www.morganeart.com.