the artist

Sarah McRae Morton

Sarah McRae Morton

Strasburg, PA

Sarah McRae Morton

First Flight was begun during tobacco harvesting season in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  It was painted in a baking hay loft while neighbors decked their rafters with the skins of tobacco.  The composition was finished seasons later after the crop was cashed and smoked, ribbons of the may pole were tattered, foals born, silos filled.  The birds – a cloud of fins, sails, dots and dashes – had gone south again.  Its scale – traditionally reserved for religious or history painting – is a reflection of McRae Morton’s American culture.  The identity of the figures as Amish, however, is disguised.  Vignettes allude to paintings by Gustave Millet, Vincent Van Gogh, Winslow Homer, and Andrew Wyeth.  

The Suspension of Disbelief is one painting from a series called “The Bellows of the Bear” which draws on McRae Morton’s family history.  McRae Morton reconstructs and retells stories of her ancestors whose search for work or rest, adventure or belonging took them across oceans, over mountain passes, into the bellies of coal mines, and through the unknown wilds of the West.  McRae Morton intertwines the narrative of her lineage with passages from American art’s past to situate each character in a time and place that has been committed to history.  For The Suspension of Disbelief, McRae Morton cast the bear who is tethered to a boat in George Caleb Bingham’s “Fur Traders Descending the Missouri.”  

The Pennsylvania Convention Center acquired two of Sarah McRae Morton’s artworks, First Flight and The Suspension of Disbelief.  The frames for both paintings were hand made by a Lancaster County Cabinetmaker and are crafted of walnut from a tree that fell on the property of McRae Morton’s father’s childhood home in West Virginia.

Fast Facts

Name: Sarah McRae Morton


Place of Birth: Boston, Massachusetts

2007 – Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Significant or special training:
Barnstone Studios
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture

Particular field of study or class work:
Art History

Major influences/admired artists:
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
Diego Velazquez
Helene Schjerfbeck
Kathe Kollwitz
Gustave Courbet
Jean-Francois Millet
Winslow Homer
Andrew Wyeth
George Bellows

Favorite materials or media:

Gallery Representation (when Convention Center acquired artwork):
Foster White Gallery
Dowling Walsh Gallery
Somerville Manning Gallery
Red Raven Art Company

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