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Why sculptor Morgan Kinne, who turns found objects into 3-D treasures, lets her artwork speak for itself

Why sculptor Morgan Kinne, who turns found objects into 3-D treasures, lets her artwork speak for itself
November 2022

Meet the artist in her North Charleston home studio

Morgan Kinne perches atop one of her ball-shaped works made of cardboard at her North Charleston home studio.

You’ll find no bio or artist’s statement on her website and little explanation on her Instagram posts. When she shows her work, her artist’s statements are abbreviated; the how, what, and why boiled down to three or four sentences. Kinne, who works out of her North Charleston home studio, isn’t being evasive; she just prefers to communicate in other ways. Like ink and paint on plaster, mixed-media works, or sculptures, often so full of texture that it tempts the hands as well as the eyes. “I don’t vocalize well, so I use art as a form of communication,” she explains. “For me, it’s a better medium than words.”

Born in Rock Hill, Kinne holds a bachelor of fine arts in sculpture from Winthrop University and a master of fine arts in contemporary art sculpture from Edinburgh College of Art. The artist studied in Finland and Iceland, before making Charleston her home in 2014. In 2020, she was awarded the Griffith-Reyburn Lowcountry Artist of the Year. Her mixed media work and sculptures have been displayed throughout the US, the United Kingdom, and Europe. Here, Kinne reveals why she was drawn to art and what inspires her.

Toys (carved and painted cardboard balls, ink paint and resin on birch branches, installation view, 2022)

Feeling Her Way: I always knew I wanted to go down an art track from childhood. I took all the art I could in school, but there was zero sculpture, not even ceramics. I accidentally fell into a sculpture class during my first year in college. I loved it. It was a whole new world; something about it just fit with the way I work and my creative mind-set. I’m a very tactile person, and we jumped straight into plaster in college, digging right in with our hands.

Work in Progress: I’m working on these big cardboard balls and a couple of towers made of stacked and compressed cardboard. I’ve always liked recyclable and found objects, but what I’m doing with this body of work is taking something so disposable and readily available and turning it into something more permanent. The spheres you have to see in the round; you have to move around them, pick them up, and roll them because there are things you can’t see unless you touch them. I’m trying to get people out of the mind-set of look but don’t touch.

(Left) Untitled installation with cardboard (charcoal and ash on paper, carved cardboard ball, mixed media on cardboard studies, 2022); (Right) Untitled (gesso, paint, charcoal and shellac on carved cardboard, 10 x10 x10 inches, 2022)

Building on a Theme: I’m not looking for buildings; they catch me. It has something to do with being on the outside looking in, but also, it’s just a recognizable thing. I can see they’ve been lived in, but I don’t know the story. There’s usually a cultural context, like how places change. To some extent, that’s reflected in any house, anywhere. At the core of the work is an interest in people and culture. I don’t have a specific concept I’m trying to send out. It’s more of an invitation.

Creative Process: My process at large is experimental. I don’t get bogged down by plans or ideas. There are overarching ideas, but I like playing with process and using what I have on hand. If I feel like I’m forcing myself or rushing, it almost never works, so I just let it fall away.  

Minimalistic Values: I don’t like having things around that I don’t need in my work and in my life. If there’s information that’s not relevant to the viewer or distracting me from making art, I don’t want it. I’m trying to break things down into minimal archetypal forms and universal objects that everybody can recognize. In my life, art is all that matters to me outside of family and friends and the daily requirements. 

Watch Kinne discuss her work True North that she created after receiving Coastal Community Foundation's Griffith-Reyburn Lowcountry Artist of the Year award in 2020.