Artist Profile – Sister Gertrude Morgan

(detail) Sister Gertrude Morgan / Angels Watching Over Me / 1970s / acrylic, tempera and ballpoint ink on paper / 14.5 x 17 in. / Collection of Gordon W. Bailey

1900–1980, born in Lafayette, Alabama; lived and worked in New Orleans

Sister Gertrude Morgan, with an irresistible charisma and evangelical zeal, ensured her spiritual and material legacy as preacher, prophet, poet, painter, and gospel singer. Although today celebrated primarily for her diminutive but ecstatic paintings of Biblical and personal divine revelation, inscribed in text and illustrated in images, her art practice was but one facet of a life lived in pious service to the Lord. Born Gertrude Williams in 1900 and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana, she nurtured a lifelong interest in art, making dirt-drawings as a child when she wasn’t working the fields with her farming family. In 1928, she married Will Morgan, and while living in Georgia in 1937, she experienced a divine calling to preach and paint God’s Word. Two years later she moved to New Orleans, establishing an orphanage and eventually a ministry out of her home, the Everlasting Gospel Mission. Her charitable and evangelical activities intensified in 1957 when God asked her to become “the bride of Christ”; she took to wearing exclusively white nurse-uniform habits and roamed the streets singing (accompanied by a tambourine) and spreading the truth. She used her artworks as proselytizing tools, and she painted on utilitarian objects (such as hand held fans for use in her mission), notebook paper, and large sections of canvas.

Artist’s Work