Wendy Morgan’s work is not exactly what we would call “easy viewing”. In contrast to some recent features that have focused on soft tones, grainy textures and muted colours, Morgan’s work is bold, bright, and decidedly stark. Although Morgan’s work is largely centred around inanimate objects, she has a way of bringing them vividly to life.
To capture her photos, Morgan shoots mainly with an old 35mm camera, which she often carries around in her bag to ensure she doesn’t miss an opportunity to capture a dazzling storefront display or a discarded suede sofa. Most of her work comes from photographing her walks around her favourite vibrant neighbourhoods in Toronto, but Morgan notes that photography also “gives her an excuse to explore the corners and crevices of the city” where she may not have otherwise ventured. When asked where she draws inspiration, Morgan pointed to a quotation from Susan Sontag: “Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.”
Although most of her work is done on 35mm film, Morgan occasionally shoots digital, and also works with editing software like Photoshop. The image of the coloured tinsel and the screenshot of the couple in bed were both edited as a way of further debauching the texture. Morgan notes that she “like[s] the degraded surface of that image as a result of a combination of my manipulation and disintegration from age”.
from Morgan’s series called “Pimp Primer Study”
Even when Morgan doesn’t digitally manipulate her images, she often gets playful with her work, for example, this image which she staged, entitled “Fanta Sea”.
Where many works of art pose a question, Morgan’s work is more like an answer. Rather than wondering what lies beyond the foliage-patterned carpet, or where the light is coming from, the above image draws focus simply on the spots of light as the subject as the image. Wendy explains that she often photographs something when it “is elevated with some kind of meaning [for her]”, or when an object “feels charged in a way I don’t totally understand”. Through her work, Morgan portrays a stylistic confidence that sets her images apart from the masses, all the while choosing mundane objects as her subjects. Her work then, as a collection, becomes a sort of worship of the quotidien, where she builds up plain, disposable gadgets as revered characters within her images. In this way, Morgan’s work is evocative of photographer William Eggleston. As Eggleston himself said of his own work, “I had this notion that of what I called a democratic way of looking around: that nothing was more important or less important”.
“In your face” would be an appropriate way to describe Morgan’s style, but in the best way possible. Her photos aren’t the kind that you would casually glance at on your way by. Rather, her photos shout “Hey you, over here” and lead eyes to her heavy contrasted, flashy subjects.
Morgan tells us, “I’m interested in how the world is built, the construct, and equally fascinated by how it decays. I’m often noticing things up close from my personal vantage point walking through the city things like the small cracks in the veneer of our commercial spaces. If something strikes me as funny or odd I feel like I want to share with someone. I revisit themes of interior and exterior, how things look on the surface and how they feel emotionally inside”. She also points us towards another quotation that she feels reflects her creative process, this one from Daido Moriyama: “To shoot images is to receive shocks from the outside world. I don’t maintain that awareness for extended periods while shooting, but through the outside world my own consciousness changes.”