Jonathan Morgan is an Ogden-based artist whose figurative bronze sculptures tell empowering stories of struggle and strength. “I’m amazed by the ability that people have to deal with adversity,” says Morgan. “I believe that struggle not only makes us stronger but brings with it empathy and compassion.”
Morgan’s inspiration stems from his own experience with adversity as a parent of a child with autism. His personal challenges have made him more sensitive to other people who are experiencing difficult times or fighting unseen battles. “My passion is to give hope to those who may need some light in their darkest moment,” he says.
As a result, Morgan’s figures are sculptured with dramatic and triumphant postures, inspiring the viewer with bold gestures. Morgan sculpts each piece out of clay before sending it to a local foundry to be cast in bronze. At the foundry, the piece undergoes the “lost-wax process,” in which outer molds are used to create bronze sculptures from clay models. The mold’s hollow impression is filled with molten metal before being chipped or melted away to reveal the finished bronze form.
In viewing Morgan’s work, one might be surprised to find out that he’s only been seriously pursuing sculpture for about two years. While he does have a background in drawing, painting and design, Morgan balances his art career with a day job in dentistry. Ironically enough, molding teeth in dental school is what allowed Morgan to discover his knack for sculpting. Now, the Utah artist has begun shifting his focus to art in hopes of inspiring a wider audience. “The reason why I went into sculpture was because of this overwhelming drive to help people,” he says. “With dentistry I can have that impact one person at a time, but I want to leave a legacy behind. Looking at my own talents was an obligation to transition more into art because of the possibility of touching so many more people.”
Morgan delves into the personal narratives and inspiration behind several of his current pieces below. More work can be found on the artist’s website.
This sculpture is almost finished. It references the mythological story of Icarus and his fall. In this piece I propose that he didn’t die and ask what his attitude toward life would be having flown so high and fallen so far. This sculpture is based on a person I met at a long term care facility. He lived an enchanted life working for a company that allowed him to live his dream of traveling the world. He lived a very exciting and fulfilling life. It all changed drastically after a skiing accident that paralyzed him from the neck down. I can’t imagine how difficult that would be. However he doesn’t let that get him down. He lives on with the same passion towards life and tries to take advantage of every opportunity he does have. He’s a remarkable example to me of how to appreciate every moment.
Sunrise (work in progress)
This sculpture started out open ended with no direction as to what the final piece would be. Three days in the project, it came to a stand still. The model for the project lost her son to a car accident. The news of that rocked my world and paralyzed my ability to continue with the sculpture. That despair carried through the day. The next morning my thoughts went to that mother and what she must be going through. Those questions led to the development of a theme. This sculpture is named “Sunrise.” It embodies the hope of a new day, the promise of warmth and vitality, the possibility that the darkness will be replaced by light and bring new growth and beauty into our life.
Against All Odds
This piece is all about the promises we make to each other. It shows a woman attempting to hold her world together while a man clings to her. When our world is falling apart, when nothing seems to be going our way. When despair, sorrow, and darkness surrounds us. Who do we turn to? Who is our support strength and hope? Who do we cling to and rely on, to soothe our doubts, to lift us up?