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River, Forest, Stone: Sumi Paintings by Carl Morris


Carl Morris and his wife, Hilda Morris, each held a deep respect for the land. Whether the rolling hills of Spokane, the glistening surface of Lake Union in Seattle, or the dense forests surrounding Portland, nature was a powerful influence in their paintings and sculpture. In the 1950s the painter Mark Tobey, their close friend, introduced them to sumi ink. Originally developed in China over 2000 years ago, sumi ink is made by kneading together soot from pine and other plants' seed oils, bone glue, and fragrances. Once a certain consistency is reached, it is cast in vessels and set to dry for long periods of time. The resulting sticks of sumi pigment are then ground, often in a special grinding stone, and mixed with water to make the black ink, long revered for its purity of color and richness of tone.

Throughout Carl Morris's career, his abiding interest in surface prevails. In addition to dipping a brush into the saturated sumi ink, he would also dip a rag into the ink and then roll or blot it over the surface of a painting—thus quickly creating the unique textural and atmospheric effects for which he is so well known.

Curated by Jennifer Gately

Exhibition Title

River, Forest, Stone: Sumi Paintings by Carl Morris



Curated by

Jennifer Gately

Organized by

Portland Art Museum

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