June 23, 2024

Mercer Gallery Exhibiting Morgan Ford Willingham and “The Beauty Mask”

(Courtesy of GCCC Director of Public Relations, Ashley Salazar)

GARDEN CITY, Kan. — The Mercer Gallery of Art is pleased to host Morgan Ford Willingham and “The Beauty Mask.”  This month-long exhibit will be on display in the gallery from March 25 through April 25.  The Mercer Gallery is open to the public, free of charge,  Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. 

Willingham is a photographic artist and educator who currently serves as a photography instructor at Emporia State University. After receiving an Masters of Fine Arts in Photography from Texas Woman’s University, she moved to the Midwest to pursue a career in academia and art making. Willingham examines how identity is shaped by advertising and societal pressures, through the use of various mediums including photography, book arts, and installation. Her work has been widely exhibited, including Humble Arts Gallery in NYC, Filter Photo in Chicago, and the Hite Institute of Art in Louisville, KY. 

Morgan Ford Willingham’s exhibit in the Mercer Gallery will exhibit works from her on-going series titled The Beauty Mask. This group of altered photographs explores how natural beauty is masked by cosmetics that women use every day, and how the language of advertising is absorbed into the subconscious, where it constantly influences what women buy and how they perceive themselves. The text in this work is often appropriated from advertising slogans found in popular women’s magazines and is often difficult to read, signifying how the linguistics of advertising subconsciously attempts to persuade women to buy cosmetic products that alter their physical appearance.  

In the newest phase of this series, the work references the symbolism of the female, Renaissance portrait. The portraits, often commissioned by a father or spouse, represented not the physical beauty of its sitter, but the wealth and stature of the commissioner. The self-portrait is used to investigate the various experiences of using cosmetics to commodify beauty, like the connection between the alteration of physical appearance to achieve societal acceptance.  

For information about the gallery, contact Gallery Director, Michael Knutson at michael.knutson@gcccks.edu.

Garden City Community College exists to produce positive contributors to the economic and social well-being of society.