SISTER GERTRUDE MORGAN (1900-1980)

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After receiving multiple calls from God to preach the gospel, Morgan arrived in New Orleans in 1939, since she believed “New Orleans is the headquarters of sin.” In the 1960s and 1970s, Morgan – artist, musician, street preacher, and prophet – lived and ministered in the Lower Ninth Ward. She ministered at her home (the Everlasting Gospel Mission house), on the streets of the French Quarter, and at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Though her first revelations initially called her to ministry, her third revelation contained the most important message: God told her that she was to be the bride of Christ. Morgan began to wear all white to signify this relationship. She would later sign her artwork with signatures such as: Bride of Jesus, Bride of Christ, Lamb Bride, Nurse to Doctor Jesus, Missionary Morgan, and Your Boss’s Wife. It was also with this revelation that Morgan began to paint, and the apocalypse almost always permeated her work.

Two of her most popular subjects were images of New Jerusalem and her Revelation charters. Both have distinctive iconographies drawn from the apocalyptic texts of the Bible, popular religious imagery, and even more importantly, Morgan’s life and experiences. Her New Jerusalem paintings share visual elements that locate the biblical text in Morgan’s world. Morgan’s paintings of New Jerusalem always contain images of buildings that look strikingly like stacked shotgun houses.

In all of her paintings the most common element is herself, and her paintings placed her into the biblical text. Sometimes she played the role of John in the Book of Revelation, by calling herself prophet but painting her interpretation of his vision. Also, as the bride of Christ, she often painted images of her wedding with Jesus.

Portrait courtesy of Religion in American History.