Lucile Michels-Morris: An Artful Life
By Annie O'Neill
From Issue 29: Winter 2016
Lucile Michels-Morris, known to all as Lucy Morris, knew what she wanted to be from early childhood. Her trajectory to being an accomplished painter and pastelist has encompassed myriad art lives!
Growing up close to Lake Michigan honed her incipient awareness of light and horizon lines, elements that are now critical to her landscapes and still lifes. Now, it is Gardiner that has benefited from Lucy’s expertise; while on the Gardiner Library board for six years she developed an art exhibition program that enriches our lives.
Lucy received her BFA from the prestigious Moore College of Art in Philadelphia. While there she worked for Prints in Progress, a community-based art workshop. She soon met the founder of The Fabric Workshop and became its first master printer. For seven years she worked on over eighty projects with internationally known artists Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Tuttle, Scott Burton and Robert Morris (whom she would later marry), as they translated their concepts into the innovative world of pattern and print on fabric.
After receiving an art education degree from Columbia’s renowned Teacher’s College, Lucy taught at many places, including Parsons School of Design, Women’s Studio Workshop and Children’s Aid Society. Her husband-to-be had owned a house in Gardiner since the early 1970s, and after shuttling between Gardiner and Manhattan, where Lucy had moved to pursue being a teacher, Lucy and Robert have lived art-intense lives in Gardiner. Their daughter Laura, a Wallkill High School graduate, went to Skidmore, to graduate school in London, and now works in media in Paris.
During these years Lucy was immersed in exploring her own interior focus. Her broad scope of interests has included printmaking, silk screen, encaustics, enameling, and silversmithing. But, her abiding interest is pastels and painting translated into landscapes and still life. She is most drawn to realism and classical elements but her work also includes very contemporary elements creating a palpable surface tension. She evokes mood through the subtlety of color creating a visceral response for the viewer.
In her cathedral-like studio are, of course, surfaces for pastels, as well as an etching press, a professional enameling kiln, a workbench for small metal projects and easels for oils. The breadth of her skills allows her to combine watercolors with pastels, alter and manipulate photographs into stunning painterly and abstracted works, and seriously push the boundaries of her mediums.
In 2016 look for her work at the Gardiner Library, April 1 through May 29. Lucy’s show will be an inspiration to artists and gardeners, and to all who are fascinated by seeing through the eyes of an artist.