Margaret Morton Remembered

Sunday, November 22, 2020, 4 - 5pm

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Margaret Morton Remembered

Margaret Morton Remembered

                                                              MARGARET MORTON REMEMBERED

                                                  HOSTED BY THE COOPER UNION SCHOOL OF ART

                                                                        November 22, 4:00pm EST

                                                                                   

Margaret Morton Remembered is being organized by Cooper Union as a tribute to reflect on the life and work of this remarkable woman, artist, photographer, teacher, mentor and friend. Join us as we celebrate Margaret Morton. Please register here for this special virtual event on Sunday, November 22 at 4PM. 

Margaret Morton, former School of Art Professor, passed away unexpectedly in New York City on June 27, 2020. Morton taught, mentored, and motivated generations of Cooper students who passed through the school. For many, their Cooper education began with Professor Morton in the first-year Foundation 2-Dimensional Design course. In addition to graphic design and photography, she was known for teaching Art of the Book, an annual course exploring the medium of the “artists book." She had a profound influence on four decades of designers and photographers.

Morton was a gifted photographer who chronicled the lives and ingenuity of homeless people. In 1989, Morton began documenting the improvised housing created by people living in Manhattan’s Tompkins Square Park. In the decades that followed, she built a remarkable record of how people live and survive at the edge of a society that overlooks them. Her photographs have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic, and her works have been shown in dozens of solo and group exhibitions. Her books include The Tunnel: The Underground Homeless of New York City (Yale University Press, 1995), Fragile Dwelling (Aperture, 2000), Transitory Gardens, Uprooted Lives (Yale University Press, 1993), and Glass House (Penn State University Press, 2004).

Phillip Lopate has written, “Margaret Morton has been doing remarkable, indeed invaluable, work at the juncture of photography and social documentation. She is our modern-day Jacob Riis.” Every image and oral history she produced serves to honor an individual she encountered in the city’s parks, vacant lots, abandoned buildings, and underground tunnels. Her last book of photographs, Cities of the Dead, the Ancestral Cemeteries of Kyrgyzstan, was published by University of Washington Press, 2014. The photographs were presented in a 2015 exhibition in the Arthur A. Houghton, Jr. Gallery.

Morton received her MFA from the Yale University School of Art. She began teaching at The Cooper Union School of Art in 1980 and became full-time faculty in 1985.    

—Ellen Lupton A’85

Read the New York Times obituary: Margaret Morton, Photographer at Home With the Homeless, Dies at 71

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

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  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.