At Leah Morgan Art Works, creativity is communal

BRING IDEAS: The studio’s namesake, Leah Morgan, wants to collaborate with the community and help others explore their artistic side. She established a stimulating and multifaceted artistic environment with a freestyle vibe. (Photo by Victoria Ford)

An artist of all trades, Leah Morgan has cultivated a haven of creative expression where all are welcome. Its invitation to community: try something new or revisit a hobby; use the space according to your needs or your inspiration.

Morgan lives in Little Egg Harbor and opened her studio-workshop, Leah Morgan Art Works, a few months before the pandemic hit. When it reopened in fall 2020, she said parents were relieved to find ways to supplement virtual education, without the usual extracurricular activities available.

With two of her own art-loving daughters, aged 10 and 7, Morgan knows how to fuel a child’s imagination. Past projects include flip books, rock painting, bead and shell wind chimes, strings, fairy lanterns, dream catchers, black light painting and a “mud lab”. It also offers courses for teenagers and adults; artistic social activities such as painting parties; and “Paint What You Want” in the open studio for all ages. The adults loved painting wine glasses, mandalas and animal portraits, learning macrame and acrylic, and exploring charcoal, pastel and watercolor. If a particular interest or medium isn’t already on the schedule, Morgan welcomes ideas.

COLOR ME IN LOVE: A painting evening on the theme of Valentine’s Day is planned for this Saturday. Visit the website to see different models. (Photo by Victoria Ford)

This Saturday, February 12 at 6:30 p.m., she will host an adult-only canvas painting evening, along with trivia, games and prizes. Create keepsakes and keepsakes, enjoy pizza, and bring your own drinks – $85 with a lover, $45 to fly solo. No artistic experience is necessary; work on a pre-drawn canvas or start with a blank canvas.

Morgan’s journey to the plaza at 249 Great Bay Blvd., aka Seven Bridges Road, is winding. (“I float with the wind,” she noted.) She graduated from Pinelands Regional High School in 2002 and Boston University with a BFA in sculpture in 2006. She served as operations manager at Noyes Museum of Art for several years before diving. in face paint, which she quickly took to rock star level. She is a member of the North Jersey Face and Body Painters’ Guild and attends body painting conventions in Florida. His curriculum vitae also includes caricatures, murals and various other commissions.

HAVE A BALL: In Atlantic City, Morgan painted a 4-by-8-foot mural on plywood for Sovereign Avenue. (Photo provided)

The single mother has led many lives. Right out of college, she trained monkeys to help people with disabilities, worked in a kennel, and helped her dad lay tiles. Face painting at birthday parties and special events was her main source of income for a while. More than a dozen years ago, she and her father, Steve Morgan, co-created a permanent tile art installation in a waiting room at AtlantiCare in Egg Harbor Township. The piece depicts two perspectives of the same branch of the Wading River, where Leah grew up, in New Gretna.

SKY’S THE LIMIT: Imaginations are encouraged to run wild at Art Works. Examples of Morgan’s finished paintings adorn the room. (Photo by Victoria Ford)

Throughout her life, fans of Morgan’s talent have tried to tell her how she should use it. “Do you know what to do?” Tattoo. Automotive adornment. Airbrush on the walk. But these art forms have never appealed to her so much, she explained, because she doesn’t want to be hampered by equipment maintenance and mechanical issues.

For her, the sweet spot is at the crossroads of art and function. It was for this reason that she was drawn to pottery – making vessels that serve a purpose.

“I like the idea of ​​things being useful,” she said.

BE HER GUEST: For pet portraiture classes, she offers canvases with a pre-outlined reference image, or a participant can use a blank one. (Photo by Victoria Ford)

Along the way, she has allowed her innate gifts and resourcefulness to be her guide, and with them she has found her niche in Art Works, where her mission is to make art accessible to all and to foster the love of art among the young people who wear it. Her classes prioritize freedom and fun, but she also “sneaks into some real artistic stuff” on color theory and composition where she can.

While Morgan’s artistic skills have defined most of her personal and professional choices, her ambition has never been to make art for art’s sake, she explained. She was never motivated to make art just to sell it. Art schools can put undue pressure on students to become the next Basquiat, she mused.

Morgan prefers to witness the joy others feel in interacting with art and discovering their own creative process. She sees her success on the happy faces of the students when they have achieved something they are proud of. And she feels more rewarded by the relationships she has built with her regular clients, the bonds that have formed between the children she teaches, and the appreciation she receives from parents.

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–Victoria Ford

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Christopher S. Washington