Thoughts and Questions on Art Morril’s “Patterns, Masks, and People”

As I walked into the exhibit room for Art Morril’s exploration into patterns, masks, and people, I saw baby blue walls covered sparsely with what, at first glance, appeared to be simple, cartoon heads wearing masks. I was intrigued immediately. I began walking around the room giving special attention to each face that was painted—and there were plenty. In fact, it was almost as if I walked into a room of people who jumped into walls and boxes once they saw someone coming. They were just heads, and sometimes only parts of heads, and each of them had their very own mask and expression. Many had thought or speech clouds coming out of them as if their conversations were paused, waiting for me. As I kept walking by, I began to understand that they weren’t just meaningless doodles, as I had originally and skeptically thought, but they held much more than that. I can only speculate on what the artist was planning with many of the faces, but some of them seemed to have distinct emotion and identity.

One particularly moving piece was a box bolted down to the floor on the north side of the room. It was red—an already heavy color that holds multiple and sometimes divergent meanings. The person painted on it had downward slanting eyes, no mouth, and no speech or thought cloud. I felt a sense of sadness or fear, or perhaps it was merely uneasiness, stemming from this person. It seemed to be coming from his being trapped, or being unable to talk, almost as if the mask had taken over. I found myself staring, wanting to know more. That is how I felt about many of the pieces in this exhibit and the entire collection as a whole.

Art Morril has created an intriguing space with minimalistic artwork that leaves the mind thinking. The last piece I studied was digital art he created using two TVs that show a young boy and older man with changing masks. As I really tried to focus on the masks that were changing so quickly, I noticed the subjects beginning to disappear. The relationships demonstrated by Art’s merging of three distinct ideas was an interesting one. The people seemed to be overtaken by the shapes, colors, and designs that covered their faces. The speech and thought bubbles, which were sometimes anchored to no one, seemed to be filled with the emptiness created by the masks that were hiding what the people might really say.

Reviewed by Courtney Bulsiewicz