Olivia Tripp Morrow: Ordinary Sanctuary

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Common Ground Gallery

Olivia Tripp Morrow: Ordinary Sanctuary

May 31-August 6, 2023

Common Ground Gallery

Ordinary Sanctuary is an exploration of the connections between domestic architectural spaces and healing. In this exhibition of paintings on gessoed paper, Olivia Tripp Morrow draws on personal associations between her memories of home from childhood and a much more recent experience of spending several months recovering from a major surgery there.

These themes are explored through symbolism and imagery that conjures notions of rest, recovery, vulnerability, and the body. Rather than depicting the body through renderings of its physical form, Morrow alludes to the body’s presence through the domestic environments she paints, such as the childhood bedroom where she spent several months of early recovery from surgery in 2020. These rooms are ordinary in their familiarity, sacred in the comfort and protection they provide – an ordinary sanctuary of sorts.  

The wrinkled surfaces and raw edges of the paper indicate the delicate physicality of the paintings themselves. This quality is echoed by faint pencil lines and layered acrylic paint washes that softly reveal their subject matter in limited palettes. Throughout the paintings in this series, certain repeating elements can be identified: mobility aids and medical devices, furniture and floorboards, ghostlike depictions of houseplants, and windows or mirrors with the reflected light and shadows they cast. While some elements of the paintings are highly detailed and developed, other sections are left intentionally undefined. Absent or ambiguous indications of architectural elements, or where objects begin or end, add to the dreamlike quality of the paintings. 

Olivia Tripp Morrow is a multimedia artist based in the metropolitan Washington, DC area whose work broadly examines gender, sexuality, beauty, and the body. In January 2020, Morrow’s body was surgically augmented to halt a progressive spine disorder, which brought the focus of her practice to the physical body: kinesthesia, pain, and resilience. Her most recent works explore the abilities and limitations of her “new” body through a wide variety of mediums, including paint, embroidery, graphite, ceramic sculpture, performance, and video. 

Morrow has exhibited her work in numerous solo exhibitions, including Body, Joy, Cage, Scar at Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington (2021), Nine Patch at IA & A at Hillyer (2019) and Gradient at Anacostia Arts Center (2019). Her work has been included in national and international group exhibitions.

Morrow is a resident artist at the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington, where she also serves as an artist representative on the Museum’s board of directors. She received her BFA in Sculpture from Syracuse University (2013) and currently lives and works in northern Virginia.   

Image Credit: Olivia Tripp Morrow, Ordinary Sanctuary, 2023

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