Celestia Morgan

Celestia Morgan, Interstate View II, 2016 [courtesy of the artist]

Celestia Morgan, a conceptual photographer and sculptor living in Birmingham, AL, captures systems of inequality and justice. For Morgan these conditions are part of her lived experience and the work of canonizing histories that have rarely been valued enough to be recorded. In 2017, when Morgan was in school at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa for her MFA, she began looking at redlining and patterns of housing discrimination. Some works in the resulting series, REDLINE, are images of vacant, neglected, and foreclosed homes. The tension in these photographs between the absence and presence of people, between the state of the homes and the sunny dayportrays the complexities of the redlined neighborhoods. Each photograph is filled with joy and power, alongside loss and suffering, imprinted with the paradoxical nature of this living history. Each of Morgan’s works functions as monument to those who live the place depictedand marks the racist policies that inform housing patterns today. Another part of the series superimposes outlines of redlined neighborhoods over idyllic blue skies, as if pointing to the absurdity of such arbitrary zoning maps, as well as to the impossibility of limitations. With each image bearing the name of the neighborhood shown, the work’s amorphous shapes become recognizable, as impressions of the people, structures, and places that form these communities. Morgan’s new maps, her sky maps, animate a new way of negotiating boundaries, both with what’s been and what will come. 

solid white outline in the shape of redlined Titusville neighborhood

Celestia Morgan, Titusville, 2019, archival pigment print, 36 x 36 inches [courtesy of the artist]

solid white outline in the shape of redlined Kingston neighborhood

Celestia Morgan, Kingston, 2019, archival pigment print, 36 x 36 inches [courtesy of the artist]

Hallie Ringle is the Hugh Kaul Curator of Contemporary Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art where she’s curated Celestia Morgan: REDLINE and Barbie: Dreaming of a Female Future. She was assistant curator at The Studio Museum in Harlem, where she curated Maren Hassinger: Monuments, Firelei Báez: Joy Out of Fire, Fictions, Rico Gatson: Icons 20072017VideoStudio: Meeting Points, Palatable: Food and Contemporary Art, and Salon Style. She is a fall 2018 Andy Warhol Curatorial Fellow. She has a BA from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MA from The University of Texas at Austin.