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Minneapolis Family Remembering Woman As Exquisite Artist

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The family of a Minneapolis artist is finding comfort in the hundreds of paintings she created.

Arlene Burke-Morgan died last month, but she left behind a studio full of exquisite artwork.

"It pulls you in with all those layers. I look and I can imagine from certain distances just falling into the space," daughter Nyeema Morgan-Cloud said.

Arlene and her husband, Clarence Morgan, moved to Minneapolis in 1992 to accept teaching positions in the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota.

And as we discovered in this week's Life Story, Arlene's talent and creativity was visible in all that she did.

"I remember watching her build these up. There was so much attention to detail. And that was my mom. She was very deliberate," Morgan-Cloud said.

Nyeema Morgan-Cloud is also an artist, and now spending time going through all of her mother's creations. Decades of paintings, many of them featuring what Arlene Burke-Morgan called "circles of light."

"She was a very spiritual woman. This was a practice that was slow and meditative for her. Everything kind of drifted away," Morgan-Cloud said.

She remembers being mesmerized as child, watching her mother work.

"She started off as a ceramicist. So she had magnificent arms. I mean like Tina Turner. Amazing arms. I remember being younger, holding her arms and just the strength in her arms and her hands," Morgan-Cloud said.

Over the years, Arlene's artwork earned her exhibits in prestigious galleries, fellowships, grants and invitations to teach.

The curator of paintings at the Minneapolis Institute of Art became a fan.

"Across the surface you have this buzzing. An interactive sense that what's on that canvas isn't static, but it's going to move around. That's one of the things she excelled at," Robert Cozzolino with the Minneapolis Institute of Art said.

Marriage was another one of her successes. She and her husband Clarence were featured in a Twin Cities Public Television report where they talked about working side by side.

"When we show together you can see there is a separation but there is an underlying tone, a tie, that binds us together," Burke-Morgan said in the movie.

"They had a very beautiful, beautiful relationship and highly influenced each other," Morgan-Cloud said.

She believes Arlene was most proud of being a wife, a mother and a grandmother. Arlene Burke-Morgan was 67 years old when she died on Dec. 16, just days after her 47th wedding anniversary.

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