Nyeema Morgan, A ’00

Note: This profile was published in the  CUAA January 2013 Newsletter.

 Nyeema Morgan is an artist living and working in New York City. Over the past few years she has participated in the Saturday Outreach Program and helped mentor students through Cooper Union’s internship program. She is also a Board Member for The Society for the Arts, Religion & Contemporary Culture, and is currently working on a series of works in a presently on-going project tilted I, Rhinoceros.

Nyeema Morgan , A’00

Tell us about your current artistic practice.

My artistic practice is developed within an interdisciplinary and conceptual framework that explores the personal and cultural economy of knowledge through familiar objects and information. Most of my work, whether project based or singular works, is inspired by philosophical conflicts presented in everyday life and has included clay works, large scale drawings, sculpture, video as well as fiction writing.
How has your time as a student at Cooper Union impacted your work?
My time at Cooper Union was an invaluable experience that continues to inform my work. Cooper provided a rigorously disciplined work structure that laid the foundation for intensive critical thinking and making. This has stayed with me whether I am in the studio making work, researching, writing or engaged in other daily activities. I was 18 when I came to New York from Minneapolis to attend Cooper Union. I was excited and timid but was warmly embraced by an intimate, eclectic group of peers who’s talent and voracious appetite for learning inspired me. This cultural and economic diversity among students and faculty from disparate backgrounds provided an enriched dialogue that fortified my understanding of community. This, among many things is what makes an education at Cooper Union so unique. I developed some lasting relationships with former classmates, now colleagues, and faculty whose diligence and commitment to art, as cultural practitioners, has continued to influence my practice.
What have been some recent exhibits or projects?
This past year my work has been included in exhibitions at the 2012 New York Photo Festival (Brooklyn, NY), South Hill Park Arts Centre (Bracknell, UK), Artspace New Haven (CT), Galerie Jeanroch Dard (Paris, France) and most recently a solo exhibition, The Dubious Sum of Vaguely Discernable Parts, at the Bindery Projects in St. Paul, Minnesota which included a series of text based drawings, a photo installation and ephemeral print publication of images and writings. In the early part of 2013, I will be included in a three-person exhibition at Carol Jazzar in Miami, Florida. Currently I am working on a series of works in a presently on-going project tilted I, Rhinoceros. This interdisciplinary project draws from the narrative around Albrecht’s Durer’s Rhinoceros and deals with identity, myth and the dissemination and consumption of images and information.

work by Nyeema Morgan

Are there any Cooper alumni artists who have had an influence on your art?

As a young aspiring artist, the work and careers of Eva Hesse and Augusta Savage served as a model of artistic fortitude and ambition. In addition, the magnitude of the alumna’s cultural contributions throughout Cooper Union’s history is extraordinary. During my studies, recalling this historical legacy was, and is, quite intimidating but at the same time inspiring and affirming. Being a part of this legacy has influenced how I think about art and why I make art- to make thoughtful contributions to cultural discourse. In speaking of inspiration, I would include the current students, faculty and alumni standing in solidarity to ensure that Peter Cooper’s founding mission is upheld, not for themselves but for future students.  And as a teacher at John Jay College of Criminal Justice I cant help but feel compelled to impart these same values in my classroom that have been ingrained in us through our education –  a commitment to social betterment through divergent, critical thinking and problem-solving, the cornerstones of creativity and innovation. I have a tremendous amount of gratitude and faith in the brilliant minds Cooper Union has nurtured over the last 150 years under Peter Cooper’s mission. And I would hope it remains honored now and into the future.

How do you stay connected to The Cooper Union?
Over the past few years I have had the wonderful opportunity to teach in the Outreach Program, mentor students through the schools internship program as well as recently participate in Cooper Union’s Open House.  These opportunities have helped me stay connected to the school, faculty, staff, alumni as well as meet current students. I have also, along with a group of concerned alumni known as the Friends of Saturday Program, have convened independently to show our support and address the needs of the Saturday Program.