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Sarah McRae Morton

The Ghost of a Flea

The title of the show refers to a painting by William Blake, The Ghost of a Flea, 1820. The paintings borrow imagery and refer to themes of Blake among other artists and writers and synthesize them with stories from my time and vantage point.


The backdrop of many of the paintings are places of story telling- theaters, front porches, bedsides and campfire rings, place where stories are retold, but there is ever a reminder of the perspective of the artist and the role of the artist as observer.


The spiraling nature of art and influence is an underlying theme in the show- the painters I spend the most time learning from have been mediums, leading me to commune with their own sources-  William Blake looked to Shakespeare and the story of MacBeth to illustrate the human capacity for destructive ambition and Kathe Kollwitz, recast the players from the theatrical production of the 19th century weavers revolt (The Weavers Gerhart Hauptmann 1892)into her own renderings of the human condition in the world raging around her in Germany in the early 20th century. Velazquez likely had a Cervantes book next to his easel when he painted the jesters and servants and animals of the Spanish Royal family, cryptically painting ideas of humanism. In telling stories of my own -or the stories I feel a duty to retell- I call on the practiced players of the past.

So, where the petal of a windmill churns the sky and fans the horse and weary rider- it could be the dream world of Don Quixote, it could be Toulouse LauTrec and one of his circus horses in Montartre, or perhaps an Amish neighbor dwarfed by the ornamental propellers of a roadside pie shop in my hometown in rural Pennsylvania, whose lights I can see pinwheeling across fields at night.