Morgan MacLean chisels wood by hand, without the use of power tools, drawing inspiration from his urban environment. His sculptures have a quality of craftsmanship rooted in history, and yet are compellingly modern and mysterious in form.
Morgan’s work explores the intersection and tension of the contemporary and ancient. It captures in wood the moment of the object’s destruction and contains both the contradictory concepts of art and its implied significance with the imperatives of time and a cultural ethos of disposability.
By carving a sculpture of a contemporary artifact by hand, Morgan captures a historical moment – even if it is in present time. It is the juxtaposition of these contradictions – the moment treated as permanent and the contemporary created through an ancient medium – that Morgan challenges people’s assumptions about the meaning of objects and how that meaning varies in different settings and time periods.
In his most recent body of work, he takes a single hollow, crushed, cardboard box and bases an entire series around it. He asks the viewer to reconsider not only how the object changes in scale, but how an object changes in weight, both physically and visually. Most of Morgan’s works have been solid objects, but now they explore the negative shape of objects, while experimenting with the massing of that void through countless elements.
There is an underlying quality to Morgan’s work that is base in obsession. In this series, the obsessiveness of gluing thousands of pieces of wood together has been confounded by basing an entire series on one single form, from a single crushed object, over and over and over.