PULLMAN — For Khleo Morris, an emerging South Side artist, painting is a way to capture her vision of the inner essence of people important to her.
Morris’ paintings, a study in contrast and color, will go on display beginning Saturday at the One Eleven Food Hall in Pullman. Morris will be on hand for a 5-7 p.m. Saturday opening.
“I started painting this collection about two years ago,” said Morris, the founder of Equipoise Art.
“I’ve always painted portraits, but I like to play with the contrast and the different layers speak to the personality of the subjects themselves.”
Morris founded Equipoise in 2018 as a career change. She’s since had her work exhibited at The Other Art Fair in Los Angeles and at The Museum of Science and Industry’s Black Creativity exhibit at the River North Art Walk.
Although growing up Morris felt herself drawn to drawing, it wasn’t something she initially persued and saw it as a hobby.
“I love doing it, but I didn’t believe I could make a good career out of it, and so it turned more into design,” Morris said.
After earning a bachelor of fine arts from Harrington College, Morris worked as an interior designer for 10 years, but never truly felt happy.
“I did my art as a hobby, but when I turned 40 I decided that if I didn’t do it now when was I going to do it,” said Morris. “I just wanted to do something with my life that would bring me that happiness and that would make me feel fulfilled.”
The turning point for Morris was during New Year’s Eve in 2018 when she found leftover wood in her closet and decided to paint a young Bob Marley.
“Not a lot of people recognize the Bob Marley when they see the piece with his headphones on and an afro instead of his locks,” said Morris. “I decided to paint him at a phase in his life when he was just coming into more of a revolutionary stage.”
For Morris, wood is the perfect canvas to “represent the beauty in our own imperfections.”
“I had this fascination with the negative and film processing and the kind of emotion, a bad feeling, another side of the image that is shown when smiling in a negative,” said Morris. “Anybody can smile at the camera, but what’s the story behind it is the message I’m trying to put out there.”
The art opening at the One Eleven Food Hall, 756 E. 111th St., will be held 5-7 p.m. Saturday. Morris will be there to greet guests.