Tazewell Morton

Artist. Pas Christian, MS.

“When I studied art at Auburn University I was introduced to an amazing person named Tazwell Morton. He was my teacher. Mentor. And eventually a dear friend. Tazwell has an imagination beyond what most of us will ever see. He always makes me laugh, smile and extremely proud to know him. His work is spiritual. Part Picasso. Part Howard Finster. All Tazwell.” — Larry Smith

Tazewell’s art blooms from his fingertips in a joyous profusion of vivid color, light and shape. You know you’ve entered there when your dazzled eyes wander through the compelling images taken from his life on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and New Orleans and fasten on the whimsical shapes in wire, on canvas, paper, wood or clay.

Tazewell’s rich and varied career includes graphic art, where he excelled in advertising, as well as several positions in academia. After growing up in Gulfport, Tazewell went to Auburn University where he graduated in 1957 with a B.A.A. degree in fine arts.

In 1958, he started as a staff artist with the Jackson Brewing Company in New Orleans. Thus began his long love affair with the Crescent City, which he has called home many times. Few artists have succeeded in capturing the unique flavors and colors of the Big Easy in all its gaudy glory.

In the 1960′s, the advertising business took Tazewell to Birmingham, Baton Rouge, Atlanta and Boston. While in Birmingham and Atlanta, he was co-founder and president of two successful design studios. Wearying of business life, he became an assistant professor  of art at the University of Georgia in 1970, where he taught graphic design. Three years later, he returned to his alma mater, Auburn, as an associate professor of art.Following a brief stint as Head of Graphic Design in the early 80′s at the New Orleans Institute of Art, Tazewell has alternated between working as a freelance commercial artist/illustrator and making and marketing his own paintings, drawings, watercolors and sculptures. His work has been in galleries and shows throughout the southeast and elsewhere. His work is included in numerous corporate and private collections around the world.

For Tazewell, life is a gumbo – rich with spice, madness included. He looks deep into the gumbo and draws spiritual strength and meaning from it. For him, this Creole seafood stew is both a rich metaphor of the mysteries of creation and the answer to the world’s problems.

And “Gumbo” he says with conviction, “is something that I think everyone enjoys”. In fact, he asserts that “It’s the celebration before Ash Wednesday. It’s simply Mardi Gras in a bowl”.

Each expression of Tazewell’s artwork has meaning on more than one level. Each has some unique insight into life lurking there; tempered by Tazewell’s insight and sense of ironic humor. His artwork is enjoyable to look at and Tazewell does not intend for this art to preach or teach.

The images which go through Tazewell’s eyes into his brain take a route which alters, intensifies, glorifies and gives new meaning to visual input.

His ability to depict these images, using various media, has created a fascinating body of art which Tazewell can explain or we can explain to ourselves.

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