Morgan uses art to cope with physical challenges

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Local artist Jay Morgan of McDonough is an admirer of beauty. Although the initial idea for a piece might look a certain way in his head, the project often ends up telling a completely different story.

“I call them cool accidents,” said Morgan. “As I’m creating the piece, it’ll start to take on a life of its own.”

McDonough artist Jay Morgan uses manipulated computer images combined with his own photography to create artwork. Photo by Seth Jackson

Morgan’s art features manipulated computer images, sometimes combined with his own photography. His artwork was recently on display at the McDonough Public Library.

“It’s basically called mixed media and photo manipulation,” said Morgan. “It’s a tiny portion of random pieces I’ve created since I started. My wife and I will be going somewhere, and I’ll see somebody, and maybe they’re reaching up to grab something in a store. You can almost create the picture in a millisecond of how it would look in a different location.”

To date, Morgan has created more than 100 pieces of his artwork over the last 15 years. He is also an authorized representative for RBH Sound, a manufacturer of home-audio systems. He represents, demonstrates and sells high-end speakers from his home along with his artwork.

He said the evolution of a particular piece of art can depend on whether he’s creating it for a customer or for his own enjoyment.

“Sometimes it’s pretty close, and sometimes it’s a completely different picture altogether,” said Morgan. “All of that is contingent on whether it’s a commissioned piece or not. If it’s something I’m paid to do, I have to do what they wanted. I can offer suggestions, but the customer gets what the customer wants.”

Morgan started getting commissioned to create pieces within a few years of beginning his art. As for how long it takes to complete one of his projects, he said there’s no set timetable.

“I have days where I could sit down and everything falls into place and I create a really nice piece in 30 minutes, and then I have pieces it takes three or four months to do,” he said. “It varies according to the complexity of the piece.”

Morgan uses his artistic talent as a way to cope with a health condition from which he has suffered most of his life. When he was a child, he was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, a progressive nerve disorder that he got from his grandfather.

“It’s basically a nerve disorder,” explained Morgan. “It kills different nerves in the body and causes the muscles to atrophy. In almost all cases, it affects the lower extremities.”

Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease takes its name from the last names of the three doctors who discovered the condition. Morgan noted that the condition affects one in 2,500 people worldwide.

“It’s the most famous unknown hereditary disorder,” he said. “Mine kicked in at eight years old, so by the time I was 25, I was as bad off as my grandfather was at 60.”

Morgan, whose feet are disfigured as a result of his condition, said he works out regularly to stay in shape. Still, he acknowledged that his disease presents its share of difficulties.

“I can bench press a couple hundred pounds, but I can’t pick up a penny off the floor,” he said with a laugh.

Morgan credited his wife Carole her constant support of his artwork, and said he has gained fans of his work locally and throughout the metro Atlanta area. He said his artwork “takes the edge off” his struggles with his condition.

“It helps kill a lot of time that I have on my hands,” said Morgan.

Although he gets kudos from those who appreciate his art, Morgan continues to maintain a sense of humility about his success.

“This is just by accident,” said Morgan. “I put a bunch of stuff together, and it happened to turn out pretty cool.”

For more information on Morgan and his art, e-mail