Jean Morrison American, 1917-1994

Born in Cranford, New Jersey, Jean Morrison was the middle child of Samuel and Viola Morrison. Morrison graduated from the Vail-Dean School, a private secondary school in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and matriculated to Sarah Lawrence College, where she was enrolled between 1935 and 1938. There, she studied the performing and visual arts, the latter under the tutelage of Kurt Roesch. It was with Roesch that Morrison became fascinated with the interplay between color and line, almost at the exclusion of subject matter. After leaving Sarah Lawrence (she completed her bachelor’s degree in 1973), Morrison became involved in the arts scene in New York City, exhibiting at the Riverside Museum with the “Bombshell” group and organizing the “Heterous” group which showed at the Pinacotheca Gallery. In 1941, she spent a summer at the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center and, upon her return to the east coast, taught at the Neighborhood Settlement House in Newark, New Jersey. With America’s entry into World War II, Morrison departed in 1943 for Europe, volunteering for the American Red Cross in England and Germany. After VE Day, Morrison spent some months trying to secure art instruction in Paris—pluckily visiting Gertrude Stein without prior appointment—and also enrolled at the Slade School of Fine Art, returning to the United States in February 1946. Whether through Roesch or another connection, Morrison began renting a studio space in a building on 119^th^ Street and Lexington Avenue where Alice Trumbull Mason, another Atelier 17 member, had her studio. It was likely Mason or one of the building’s other studio renters—Carl Holty, Andre Racz, or Harry Hoen—encouraged Morrison to visit Atelier 17, which she did later in 1946. There, she used various intaglio processes to expand her work in abstraction, and her prints from this period combine human forms and architectonic structures. One such print was a pared-down, linear portrait of Fred Becker (1913-2004), an early member of Atelier 17 and trusted “right hand man” to Hayter in the development of simultaneous color printing. Morrison and Becker married in 1949 in St. Louis, where he had taken a job establishing the printmaking program at Washington University. Painting and drawing were always Morrison’s primary focus, and she actively showed this work in galleries in New York City and later in St. Louis. Morrison only produced a handful of prints, which she exhibited on a more limited scale. For many years, Morrison taught painting and design in the continuing education division of Washington University. She and Becker moved in 1968 to Amherst, Massachusetts, and Morrison grew more involved with activism, working at the Everywoman’s Center (now the Center For Women & Community) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and becoming a member of the Amherst Public Art Commission.

 We thank Christina Weyl for this biographical information.