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Member Portfolio

Morgan Thomas Shankweiler

Philadelphia, PA


Artist's Statement

My greatest preoccupation is with how humans move through space and time; physical space, metaphysical space, systemic and social space, emotional space, more recently, virtual space, and with how we attach meaning to these movements and to the interactions that alter these movements. I approach my observations of human behavior through a trained sociological lens, utilizing both ethnographic and quantitative analysis, and I approach my artwork similarly, straddling a line between realistically rendered metaphorical work and abstract data visualization.
My work is anchored in process. A gridded system (stripes, quilts, skeletons, architecture, order) serves as a rigid scaffold for the movement of the organic as I employ a playful practice of experimenting with the connection of sets of tiles in two dimensional ‘puzzles’. The various ‘puzzles’, created and conceived in the studio in the tradition of Wang dominoes and Tesselata, are engaged through aleatoric games that follow prescribed rules. The prescribed rules of the games are inspired by human behavior and can be random, mathematical, metaphorical, or fact-based (often drawn from statistics or sociological theory). The results of these games and puzzles become the basis for larger works using graphite, ink, oil pastel, acrylic paint, rope and plaster on paper, wood panel, steel panel or canvas.
The paintings are not just still life, they are maps of human connectivity; hands holding, sustained eye contact, a casual conversation about the weather, joined protest, embrace. Larger works are ‘net’works, each knot or loop, each channel of connection, indicating a corresponding human connection that holds a community of people together. It is the humanity of these visual interactions and the tapestry created through deliberate mark-making that draw me to this work of translating our social existence into a distinct and communicable visual language.
Most recently, I am interested in ways in which I can employ the puzzles and games I have created not just as catalyst for a final product, but as part of the final product itself. Rather than having a fixed piece, I am curious to explore how the final works might be manipulated by the viewer so that the metaphorical ‘net’works evolve with active external community influence or visually represent a social system known to them in their daily lives. I am interested in delving deeper into three things at this juncture: the visual language surrounding the creation of the mathematical puzzles, the aesthetic results of the puzzles as "played" on a surface, and the interactive strategies employed by visitors to manipulate the work.


Williams College, Williamstown, MA
BA, Sociology, Anthropology
BA, Studio Art
Awarded the Frederick H. Robinson '20 Scholarship for Excellence in Music
School for International Training, Jaipur, India
Cultural Studies Concentration
Miniature Painting Apprenticeship with Ajay Sharma
Batik Workshop with Udaipur-based Apollo Artisans

Awards & Honors

Da Vinci Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA
Penland School of Craft, Penland, NC
Winter Residency, Drawing and Painting
Ellarslie Open 37/38, Trenton City Museum, Trenton, NJ
Best in Show, drawing, for Ties that Bind
School of Visual Arts, New York, NY
Five week residency: "Illustration and Visual Storytelling: Art and Industry"

Artist's Bibliography

Newhall, Edit, Galleries: A trippy narrative mural explores time and perception, Philadelphia Inquirer, August 23

Professional Experience

Puente Art Lab, Quito, Ecuador
"A Lecture to Inspire an Interdisciplinary Approach to a Creative Life"
2012 - 2020
Strath Haven High School, Wallingford, PA
Instructor, set design and construction
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Instructor, studio classes in the art of the Mughal Miniature


Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Renaissance Painting Techniques


Beyond Words, Fountain Street Gallery, Boston, MA
Curator: Gabriel Sosa
Identity Politics, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Throughlines, Indianapolis Art Center, Indianapolis, IN
That Which Surrounds You, ArtsBenicia, online exhibition
Curator: Asya Abdrahman
Ellarslie Open 37/38, Trenton City Museum, Trenton, NJ
Juror: Dr. William R. Valerio, Director of the Woodmere Art Museum
Works on Paper 2021, Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences, Long Beach, NJ
Juror: Lanka Tattersall, Senior Curator in Department of Drawings and Prints at the Museum of Modern Art
Violent Devotion, Hamilton Street Gallery, Bound Brook, NJ
Curator: Christy E. O'Connor
HOME, Duke Gallery at Wallingford CAC, Wallingford, PA
2021 Members Juried Exhibition, CFEVA, Philadelphia, PA
2020 Members Juried Exhibition, CFEVA, Philadelphia, PA
Let's Connect, Philly's Artists take on the Barnes, The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA
Sponsored by the Barnes Foundation and Mural Arts Philadelphia
The Departed, The Distillery Gallery, South Boston, MA
Curator: Scott Chase
CALICORNUCOPIA, Calico, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY
Exhibit A, Calico, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY
Paint it Now (PIN) Philly, Space 1026, Philadelphia, PA
PIN Brooklyn, Fowler Arts Collective, Brooklyn, NY
PIN Two, The Distillery Gallery, South Boston, MA
SEMIOPTICON, Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
Curator: Elizabeth Gault
PIN One, The Distillery Gallery, South Boston, MA


2019 - 2020
Tender Buttons, Commission of 14 gouache miniatures for composer Jordan Nelson
Two Illustrations included in online archive of American Illustration 39
Long-listed for the AOI World Illustration Awards 2019
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