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Alumna Lauren Morris ’20 Exhibits at AUP for Black History Month


The AUP Fine Arts Gallery, located in the Combes Student Life Center, hosts an annual Black History Month exhibition every February. This year, alumna Lauren Morris ’20, who produces work under the name LO, was selected for the exhibition; her show, “The Fate of God and His Darlings,” reimagines the Black figure in the classical space, incorporating conventions of Christian iconography and Western art through a lens of the contemporary Black experience.

LO is a Jamaican–American visual artist based in Paris and Atlanta, Georgia. Her portraits add a modern spin to classical artistic languages and styles, showing Black models in poses and with symbols typically associated with Christian portraiture. “I’m making connections between the kinds of art and iconography you see within the Western canon – such as saints and martyrs – with current events and people,” she explains. Her work draws on influences such as Kehinde Wiley and Kerry James Marshall, both of whom paint contemporary Black figures in response to classical approaches.

LO explains that her time studying for a double major in fine arts and art history at AUP inspired the classical elements of her work; she fondly remembers visiting the Louvre Museum as part of her classes, discovering art in situ alongside her professors. She jumped at the chance to return to exhibit at her alma mater to reconnect with the on-campus community. The AUP Fine Arts Gallery is curated by Professor Jonathan Shimony, LO’s former teacher. “Jonathan has believed in my work since I was a student,” she says. “He’s the first person I show when I paint a new piece.”

While at AUP, LO was closely involved in the Black and Abroad student club, which was established in 2019 to provide a safe, exclusive space for Black-identifying students on campus. “Exhibiting during Black History Month means a lot to me,” says LO, who hopes that the exhibition will resonate with current Black students at AUP. “I want to share art that relates to my experiences so others can also relate to it and learn from it.”

LO graduated in 2020: during a summer that had a profound impact both on her as an artist and on communities around the world, as the murder of George Floyd by a police officer led to global #BlackLivesMatter protests. “I take inspiration from my personal experience of being Black in the world – and more specifically in America,” she says. “I’ve had my own experiences of loss due to police brutality. I wanted to keep those experiences in my heart and connect them to my art.”

She is, however, also keen to show what she views as the joy and hopefulness of the Black experience; something she achieves through drawing on religious symbols such as saints and angels in her paintings. “Many of my figures are looking at something hopeful just out of frame,” she explains. This joyful feeling is personalized further by the fact LO uses people close to her as models – including other AUP alumni. “These are people whom I love and whom I think are beautiful,” she says. “I’m so glad I got to encapsulate their youth.”

The AUP exhibition ran February 2–28, 2023, and was LO’s third solo show, following two exhibitions in Atlanta. To find out more about her work, visit her website below.