Art Graduate Writes Book Celebrating God’s Artistry
Since graduating from the South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University in 2019, Morgan McCarver has established herself as an award-winning ceramic artist. Her work has gained national recognition and has been shown at juried exhibitions and solo exhibitions. McCarver can now add a published book to her accomplishments.
God the Artist, coming out January 9, 2024, will guide readers through the pottery making process while exploring biblical ceramic symbolism in a conversational style. McCarver hopes readers of her book will learn more about God and about pottery, and also learn about their own creativity in the process.
“We are made in God’s image, and if God is creative, then all of us are also creative in our own ways, whether we can see it clearly or not… I’m just really diving into that for the readers and allowing them to embrace that side of themselves and to see that side of God as well,” she said. “Each chapter has what I call a creativity challenge at the end. The chapter will discuss a certain topic and readers are encouraged to apply that into their own lives using their own art medium of choice, whether that’s singing, dancing, painting or writing poetry,” she said.
McCarver has had an artistic, creative spirit for as long as she can remember. She took up dancing at age three, doing ballet and Irish step dancing. Then a diagnosis of scoliosis when McCarver was in fifth-grade led her to redirect her creative energy.
“I wore a brace for three years until eighth-grade, then at that point they realized the bracing wasn’t working and I would need surgery,” she said. “When I had the surgery, I had two rods and 18 screws in my spine, and so it was a year of recovery. I wasn’t allowed to dance or jump or twist or bend or pick up heavy things or pretty much anything for a year.”
McCarver said that while enduring her physical limitations could be depressing, she soon found an artistic outlet when she began taking pottery classes during a kids summer camp.
“They didn’t have classes specifically for teenagers and my school was too small to offer ceramics, so I would take adult classes in the evenings with people who were 30-plus years older than me, but I just loved it,” she said.
When McCarver was in high school, she toured Anderson University and fell in love with the campus. Another thing she loved about Anderson University was a ceramics major offered through the Department of Art and Design in the South Carolina School of the Arts. There McCarver became fascinated with slip casting, in which pottery with intricate designs could be made with plaster molds.
“Basically it’s kind of like how you would make Wedgewood pottery. I fell in love with that process of making a prototype, mold making and making slip, and that’s still how I make most of my pieces,” she said. “It’s just a great way to get unique shapes that you can’t get on the wheel and to be able to get the pieces as thin as you can, because porcelain does best when it’s translucent. Just being able to learn a new skill and learn a new craft that I had no idea even existed—that was really special.”
Her pottery creations consist of a variety of slip cast porcelain pieces. Some are decorated with delicate wildflower designs she drew and copyrighted herself, now screen printed onto the surfaces. Others evoke a regal feel, such as her teapots, the curvilinear spout resembling her scoliosis S curve, made with a 3-part mold. Each of her four wildflower drawings are of flowers she grew up with in the Carolinas, and each flower symbolizes feminine strength and resilience. “I love the idea of both porcelain and wildflowers being initially thought of as fragile, but upon closer inspection, both are in fact quite strong. I relate to that message and have found that others do as well,” McCarver said.
McCarver divides her time between working as a contracts coordinator for Advanced Business Equipment in Asheville, North Carolina, leading seventh-grade girls at Brookstone Church in nearby Weaverville and sharing space with other artists at Southside Studios, most notably Melissa Weiss, an acclaimed area potter.
“We’re all in there together. It’s a really great community because we have the free rein of using the kilns and firing them how we like, but we also have that community around us to ask questions and send text messages,” she said. “It’s a great individual and community type experience.”
McCarver’s idea for writing a book has developed over time, going back to her senior year at Anderson University. As she studied her Bible, references about pottery and clay jumped out at McCarver and she felt God was leading her to begin writing down her thoughts on how scripture related to pottery. She felt led to somehow publish her writings as a book, but had little initial success.
“I was told I could self-publish and I really didn’t want to take that path, so at that point I felt the Lord telling me that I needed to wait and get some more experience,” she said. In January 2023, McCarver felt God was leading her to revisit the book idea.
“I basically rewrote the entire thing,” she recalls, “I guess that’s kind of like the Christian walk, rebirth and growth in a new direction.” She found a publisher and plans for her book were set into motion.
“I’m just honored that the Lord is willing to use my story to spread a different message about God and His artistry and creativity that isn’t always mentioned,” she said. “I thought my surgery was one of the worst things that could happen and it’s really just led me on my path of life, from ceramics to Anderson, to where I am now with pottery, to writing God the Artist. If I hadn’t had all of those experiences, I wouldn’t be able to write the book. Just really the mindset-change of just being honored that all of those experiences happened to me, even the ones that weren’t fun… I wouldn’t change it because that’s how my story goes and without hard times I wouldn’t have the testimony that I have now.”
The book is being published by Morgan James Publishing in New York and is currently available for pre-order through major online book retailers and McCarver’s website. You can also follow McCarver on Twitter @GodtheArtistBk or Instagram @morgan_mccarver_porcelain.