A discussion with artist Morgan Goldsmith about her exhibition at Florida Mining Gallery

Creation is second nature to Naples-based artist Morgan Goldsmith. Having grown up in a family of artists and builders, she feels drawn to repurpose the materials available to her to communicate her experiences through the physical construction and deconstruction of visual artwork. This mentality is sure to pass down to her own children as she allows them to collaborate with her in this process.

A majority of Goldsmith’s pieces begin as blank paper scattered on the floor or taped low on the wall—within little arm’s reach—inviting her children to create with her. She then combines and collages with a keen use of shape, space and texture.

Goldsmith’s current exhibition at Florida Mining Gallery is an exploration of “the space between humanity and divinity,” as well as her difficulty with birth trauma, a common experience rarely discussed in the mainstream. According to the National Library of Medicine, “up to 45% of new mothers have reported experiencing birth trauma.” The contrast between the persistent messaging of birth being a wholly positive experience with this darker, more complicated reality is apparent in Goldsmith’s work. Bright colors, celebration of creation and the collaboration with her children coexists with exploration of her difficulties and emotional isolation.

The title of the exhibition, “THUNDER FLOWER / emotional labor,” also speaks to this dichotomy. The phrase “thunder flower” is inspired by her son Leo, who titled an art show of his own by the name. At his sibling’s first birthday party, Leo hung up his drawings on the wall. He had each attendee pick a piece to take home. The name grew into something bigger within their family. “Emotional labor” tells the story of the work Goldsmith endured to get back to her higher self post trauma.

Goldsmith doesn’t seem to compartmentalize these subjects but rather embody everything at once, exploring how things exist at “the intersection of God, love, trauma, vulnerability, domesticity and motherhood.”

Without a separate studio space, her art is a part of her home life. Her supplies are often what she has on hand due to her role as a mother: stickers, crayons, chalk, and Elmer’s glue. With this knowledge, the audience may gain some insight as to what Goldsmith means when she “sees her monumental drawings as skins, absorbing her lived experiences.”

She intends for her work to feel performative, for the audience to have an active and intimate role in witnessing her stories through this visual media. I was impressed by how alive her artwork, and the space itself felt. It’s a shift from the more traditional regard toward professional art. I’ve often felt like an intruder in galleries where edges must be perfectly level, wall mounts unseen, and the space contrived and stale. Such museums seem to try to erase life, freeze time. Goldsmith’s work, however, recognizes change. She wants viewers to see evidence of her process, not just a finished product.

In the middle of the gallery floor, a TV lies facing the ceiling. Video plays, recordings of Goldsmith’s habitation of the gallery itself where she made much of the artwork just before the show’s opening. She held open hours, inviting the public to take part in creating the exhibition.

To further encourage this kind of interaction with the series, the gallery is hosting more events open to the public. Be sure to check out the schedule on Florida Mining’s social media or floridamininggallery.com. “THUNDER FLOWER / emotional labor” runs through Aug. 31. I am in love with this exhibition and promise you won’t want to miss it.

About Kale Boucher