Answer the Call: Turning the Lens on Morgan Barrie

Lauren Wolfer, Associate Curator of Special Collections & Archives

The National: Best Contemporary Photography is a hybrid invitational and juried exhibition, anchored by photography standouts Melanie Walker, Raymond Thompson Jr., Morgan Barrie, Jack Sharkey, Karen Klinedinst, Ian van Coller, and Jeanette May. The call for entry, now live, is turning the lens toward the photographers, looking for talented artists from across the country who are pushing the boundaries of the medium with adventurous techniques and original subject matter. In terms of aesthetic quality, technical innovation, and cultural relevance, contemporary photography has increasingly proven its dominance as a 21st century art form.

With submissions for juried entries now open, we wanted to introduce our invited artists! Leading up to the submission deadline, June 19th, 2022, we’ll turn the lens on these photographers. Our finale: Morgan Barrie!

A gallery shot of Morgan Barrie's work in The National exhibition in 2014.
The National: Best Contemporary Photography in 2014. Morgan Barrie, American, b. 1988. Transplants. Digital collage, archival pigment print, 2013. Courtesy of Artist.

Barrie has come full circle, starting as an entrant to The National in 2014 to now being one of our invited artists. The work submitted in 2014, Transplants, was awarded a purchase prize and is now owned by the museum. Her work employs storytelling with a humorous twist, never lacking in color, that explores the relationship between humans and nature.

A redheaded girl holds a gold bowl with a jellyfish in it. Behind her ocean waves crash onto a sandy, pebbled beach.
Morgan Barrie, American, b. 1988. Transplants. Digital collage, archival pigment print, 2013. Museum purchase prize, 2014.53.

Her new body of work continues to explore the interplay between human and animals as they both vie for resources, and they way they travel and share those resources.

Barrie says of her work, “A landscape can be read like a text, each element revealing a piece of a narrative. Weeds can tell stories of traveling across continents and displacing other species to dominate their new terrains. Cultivated plants have survived and spread partially through their seduction of human beings, and some animal species are now believed to have partially domesticated themselves. Landscape is something constructed, piece by piece, by many different players. 

This body of work explores this built aspect of the environment by following the same basic structure as millefleur tapestries. Each work is assembled flower by flower so that the final image contains dozens of individual photographs. Native species mix with non-native and even invasive plants, as do human and animal elements.”

A digital collage of photographs of various flowers against a deep, dark blue background. In the center is a fox underneath a tree.
Morgan Barrie, American, b. 1988. Ornament 1, from Myth of the Flat World. Digital collage, archival pigment print, 2018. Courtesy of Artist.

We are now accepting entries! Open through June 19th, 2022, submit your photo(s) now for the chance to have them displayed at the Museum alongside Morgan Barrie’s work! The National will be on display September 17th, 2022-January 8th, 2023.

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