Artist Q&A | Sculptor Morgan Yacoe

October 29, 2014

Today I am happy to introduce sculptor (and friend) Morgan Yacoe. As one of my dearest friends, I think everything this girl does is great. After watching her Tedx Talk, though, I was inspired to dig a little deeper into Morgan's life as a full-time maker who works at the juncture of art and medicine. 
Morgan Yacoe
Morgan helps doctors understand the human body through art. She builds and teaches doctors to build anatomically accurate models on which to practice intricate procedures. Notably, Morgan cast the model of conjoined twins that aided VCU Medical Center in preparing for a successful separation surgery.

So how does this creative mind with a science background meld both worlds? What inspires Morgan, and what makes her feel thankful?

Read below for a glimpse into our recent chat, if you'd like...
Morgan Yacoe teach
When did you first fall in love with sculpture and the study of the human anatomy?
During my freshman year at Boston University, I had a general curriculum that included painting, sculpture, and drawing. Sculpture seemed all-inclusive. There's drawing and painting involved. Also, in an early painting class, it became clear in the way I painted (laying on paint thick, the materiality of the paint and the texture, the dimension in the forms) that I would to be a sculptor.

After graduating from VCU [with a BFA in sculpture and concentration in premedical science], I realized that I didn't have to go to medical school or get an MFA right away. I could use the tools I already had. I'd recently returned from a trip to South America and I was figuring out my path. Then, all of a sudden, I had work. Out of nowhere, I was busy with sculpture and I had teaching opportunities and more medical models to make.

It's funny how things seem to work out once we release the idea of a perfect path. 
Yeah, things seem to fall into place.

How did you decide to make sculpture your full-time job?
Once I had a few jobs under my belt (two sets of conjoined twin models, a funeral bust commission, and work at the local foundry), I realized I could make a full-time job of sculpting and teaching. 
Sculptor Morgan Yacoe
You’ve done several commissions. Do you have time to focus on your own work?
I don't see the commission work as anything different than my own work. It's all really special to me. My work is about art, medicine and the body, and all of these different processes, and that is happening through these commissions.

I'm lucky. Even though I'm doing it for other people, I think that's the beauty behind it. I'm not just doing this for myself. I'm doing it for others, and giving it away. I have a hard time thinking about just working in my studio, working really hard on something that doesn't have a connection to anyone else directly, or that didn't come out of a collaboration or didn't involve something bigger than myself.
conjoined twins model
conjoined twins model after surgery
You currently live in Richmond, Virginia. How has living in Richmond affected your work? 
I love Richmond. I can't ask for anything more in terms of resources, people, and lifestyle. Richmond has had a huge effect on my work. A lot of my work depends on my community and the VCU Medical Center.

Also, a lot of the work I do is figurative and employs traditional sculpting skills. Richmond has rich history and has so many historical monuments, which means there are historical bronze workers and metal conservators here. These are people I can reach out to for guidance, which is helpful. That's something that would be more difficult in a different city where there wasn't such an importance placed on history. 

Describe your typical day as an artist.
I spend a lot of time at my studio, then 2-3 days out of the week I'll have meetings at the hospital. Mostly it's running errands, picking up supplies, and doing business work and research. Currently, I'm writing up a medical paper about face models for residents. No two days are the same. I'm all over the place!
Morgan Yacoe Studio
What are the biggest challenges and rewards of running your own business?
The administrative/financial aspect is the hardest part. Putting in bids is challenging, because you have to understand material cost and competition. Invoicing and getting paid timely is difficult. Lots of artists have people who do this for them. I'd love to have someone manage this for me!

There are so many rewards of running my own business. Being the boss. I love being a leader. I'm self reliant. I'm not working for an artist, not working on someone else’s sculpture. Most artists at this age are studio assistants, working for others.
Conjoined Twins Morgan Yacoe
Are you working on any future projects or plans?
Today I am working on this series for an auction that's going to be held at the World Pediatric Project in Richmond, Virginia. It's a fundraiser for the organization, which sponsors children to receive medical attention. World Pediatric Project sponsored the separation of the conjoined twins. They do some amazing work. I'm making the sculpture of the conjoined twins into a small piece, 7 inches tall. It's a miniature cast in a process called cold cast bronze.

Coming up, I'm working on a casting of a woman who had a mastectomy. Once I make the casting, then I'll make a mold and cast in a material where surgeons can practice sculpting a breast onto it. They can be thinking about form and symmetry.

Also, I'm producing another silicone breast with a cyst inside of it, so surgeons can practice feeling for the cyst, and can even aspirate the cyst. They can ultrasound the model too!

In addition to art, what brings you joy and makes you feel thankful?
I love being around my friends and family. That's the best. Also, cooking, seeing shows and art, and being outside. 
Thank you so much, Morgan! It was a pleasure to talk.

{Image 1 Scott Elmquist via Style Weekly}
{Image 2 Nathan Cushing via RVA News}
{Image 3-7 via Morgan Yacoe}

Shakey Graves | And The War Came

October 28, 2014

Lately I've been digging Shakey Graves' new album And The War Came. He is one of my Austin favorites, and these songs sound even better in anticipation of this week's show alongside Shovels & Rope and Hayes Carll (!!!!).

Here's a tune off the album. (Music starts at 1:05)

Gratitude Lately

October 27, 2014

early morning coffee
Early mornings in the sunroom

old yellow house

Treasures from a fall walk 

Halloween decorations
Neighborhood decorations

star garland
Holiday preparations

Here's to gratitude and how it turns everything into enough.
What have you been thankful for lately?

Joy on the Farm | Wedding Slideshow

October 23, 2014

Here's a glimpse of the day I married my best friend. Have you ever seen so many smiles in one place? We were lucky to have our community of family and friends gather on a special piece of land in the Tennessee hills.

Forever and ever, amen.

Home | Black Window Trim

October 21, 2014

Black Window Trim
As my home inspiration boards indicate, I am continuously drawn to the black window trim trend. Whether framed by industrial metal or painted a glossy onyx, this window casing style easily translates across different design approaches.

black window trim
Most pleasing to my eye is a black frame used as a bold accent against an otherwise calm, neutral palette. It's a simple element that can carry a room.

black window trim black window trim black window trim
Until my panes are owned rather than rented, I will pin and pine after these dreamy black trims.

black window trim

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Gratitude Lately

October 20, 2014

calathea plant
This calathea plant {Catching the afternoon light just so}

Montana view
Receiving photos like this from a long distance bestie in MT {The effort to remain connected}

cut lemon
Fresh ingredients {The time to test new recipes}

dad daughter wedding
My dad {Unconditional, do-anything-for-you love}

Driskill porch
Relaxing evenings with M {Sharing big dreams on a big porch}

Here's to gratitude and how it turns everything into enough.
What have you been thankful for lately?

Happy Weekend | Go Outside and Play

October 17, 2014

Since my recent visit to Asheville, North Carolina, the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains have been heavy on my mind. To get my daily fix of the rolling Appalachians from here in central Texas, I began following Blue Ridge Outdoors.

Blue Ridge Mountains, Blue Ridge Outfitters, Appalachia
The publication for all things outdoors in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic presents stunning scenery and inspiration to #gooutsideandplay.

Blue Ridge Mountains, Blue Ridge Outfitters, Appalachia
Before I brew some coffee,  kick up my feet, and settle in for a little cozy fall R&R (aka Scandal marathon), which outdoor activity will clear my mind and stretch my desk-bound muscles? Paddleboarding? Biking? A gentle hike? 

Blue Ridge Mountains, Blue Ridge Outfitters, Appalachia

Here's to a weekend of fresh air and outdoor adventure!

Blue Ridge Mountains, Blue Ridge Outfitters, Appalachia

Home | Cozy Fall Updates

October 16, 2014

What is it about fall that makes me crave everything cozy? It's probably the shorter days, the cooler temperatures, and the nostalgia of the fast approaching holiday season (my favorite). This seasonal shift means more time indoors - more gathering, more entertaining, more laying low.

Cozy by fire
I love the simple changes that can be made in the home to bring about warmth: a soft candle, a textured throw over the sofa, and swapping out light textiles for something plush.

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Don't you just want to snuggle up with a good book by the fire? 

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Artist Spotlight | Sally King Benedict

October 15, 2014

I met Sally King Benedict and discovered her vibrant abstract paintings when I worked at Redux Contemporary Art Center in Charleston. Sally exudes grace both individually and through her work. I love the way her color combinations can be unexpected, yet always complementary, creating truly sophisticated palettes. I long for a SKB in my home!

Here are a few of my favorites:

{Lilac Diptych}
{Cape Face}


Mom, Oprah & 5 Things

October 14, 2014

My mom loves Oprah. Specifically, my mom loves the inspiration and character building that Oprah delivers to the world. As a kid, my mom and I would watch the (age-appropriate) Oprah shows as we prepared dinner and homework, respectively. If I were to make a list of the top five celebrity influencers of my childhood, Oprah may or may not make the cut.

Speaking of lists, when I was eight years old my mom gifted my brother and me one of Oprah's tools for Living Your Best Life: a gratitude journal. I was charged with the task of documenting five things each day for which I was grateful. The idea is that by acknowledging these five things, we become more aware of other goodness in our lives. 

My commitment to the gratitude journal ebbed and flowed over the years, but the effects have had a lasting impact. Now I would like to reignite an iteration of the gratitude journal in a weekly digital documentation of 5 things I love:

Blue Ridge Mountains {Weddings to celebrate}
Family {The addition of a new sister}
This blue door {Discovering new Asheville neighborhoods}
ACL Festival {Living in the Live Music Capital}
Fall flowers {And my mom's love for her first born}

A Grateful Heart

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
-Melody Beattie
These are fitting words to kick off this new little space, where I hope to document the things that bring me joy. I also hope to share some of the things that inspire me most: art, nesting, and healthy living. 

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