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Positively LEX 18: Artist's sculptures encourage open dialogue among youth

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Posted at 6:47 PM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-05 13:02:29-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — We all have stories of success or maybe overcoming challenges.

Lexington artist Bob Morgan has spent decades using art to share other people's stories. He hopes his work will encourage open dialogue within the community.

"I like stuff that gets rusty," Morgan said. "I have lots of stuff I have no clue what it is."

It still means something and helps Morgan tell a broader story.

"I use a lot of broken toys, electronical junk," he said.

This so-called junk often ends up on these sculptures. His mom was an artist and ever since he was a young boy, he always has a hand on telling stories through art.

"My pieces tell stories about marginalized people in our community," Morgan said. "A lot of times people who go under the radar and whose stories aren't ever told."

He started telling stories about the devastation of HIV/AIDS. As time went on, that shifted to those of addiction and alcoholism.

"I promised a lot of people many years ago that I would never forget their story and I would make sure people heard it," Morgan said.

He makes sure all of his pieces come into play.

"I can take it to Woodland Park and sit it down and next thing I know there's a couple of people standing around saying, 'What are you doing, man?' I say, well, I'm an artist. And they say, 'This is art?! Looks like a bunch of junk," Morgan said.

That's sometimes what helps people keep an important conversation going.

"I tell them stories about my art and then I ask them stories about themselves and they open up to me," Morgan said. "And we have a meaningful dialogue."

That dialogue, where people can connect, just like pieces on a sculpture, helps build trust.

"When I talk to young addicts, I know their story because I've lived it," Morgan said.

Morgan has been clean and sober for more than 30 years.

"Yeah, I struggled with years of addiction," he said. "I was unable to make art and unable to function in society."

What seems like piano parts, tape measures, or bottle caps put together is so much more. It helps make a connection.

"That allows me to talk to them about their future and about their behavior," he said.

Throughout his career, Morgan's work has been somewhat two-fold. The bright colors help reel in the eyes of the broader community.

"The kind of stories I'm doing and the kind of art I'm making excites people in the art world just as much as it does kids who are living on the street," he said.

With some of the pieces he's working on now though, he finds himself exploring a different type of story.

"I find some of the story being me right now," he said. "The story used to always be other people."

His story, too, most certainly has a purpose.

"I focus so much on the other stories that I forgot that my story is important too."