On the occasion of her ninetieth birthday, in 1993, friends of celebrated New England artist Maud Morgan honored her accomplishments and spirit by establishing an award that acknowledges women artists at mid-career who reside in Massachusetts. In 1994 the Museum of Fine Arts and an expanded group of admirers contributed to this original fund, making it a permanent award that includes an addition of art to the collections of the MFA.
Although Morgan passed away in 1999, at the age of ninety-six, recipients of the Maud Morgan Prize continue to demonstrate her independence and spirit of adventure. During her most active years as an artist and instructor, Morgan came to represente women who struggled with commitment to a career in the arts at a time when the traditional roles of women were emphasized. She was associated with distinguished artists and writers of the 1930s, including James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway, and she studied at the Art Students League in New York with Hans Hofmann. Morgan exhibited with Betty Parsons Gallery in New York, in the company of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, before becoming an influential teacher—with her then-husband, painter Patrick Morgan—at Abbot Academy and Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts.
The Museum is pleased to award the eleventh Maud Morgan Prize to Jill Weber. Weber graduated in 2004 from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Fifth Year Program and studied architecture at Cornell University (B.S. 1960) and the State University of New York at Buffalo (M.A. 1980), before moving to Boston. She pursued a career in development and marketing, eventually founding the Boston Society of Architects Marketing Service. Making art, however, has always been part of her life, and she has an abiding interest in the construction of an image, inspired and informed by her study of architecture. In this series of paintings, the skylight and the metaphorical view it allows provided Weber with a means to create flat, abstract compositions that allude to immeasurable depth. She suggests contrasting planes through the simplicity of exact lines and the painted illusion of tape against a field of laboriously layered oil paint. The contradictions in these precise compositions echo that of the subject matter, for the view through a broken plane is both a reference to escape and an acknowledgement of confinement.