Old rusty metal, bits of twisted wire, broken pottery, smashed forks and spoons and bottle caps, plus rusty bolts, nails, and nuts are just a few of the items I call "treasures." On a walk, biking or exploring I finds objects that may look like discarded junk to most people, but to me and my artistic eye, each piece is a part of a puzzle making up a possible recycled masterpiece. With a degree in Fine Arts, I am a oil and acrylic painter, work with mixed media and am the creator of my own line of children's characters "The Buzzlewics."
I first became inspired to create recycled mixed media assemblage art in 2005 while walking with Jo Mueller, Spiva Center for the Arts director. Crossing through an alleyway, we found a few handfuls of rusty metal. My first angels were created for the “Artful Ornament Auction” 2005 at Spiva Center for the Arts. Original, one-of-a-kind artist-made ornaments that were donated by the artist for a silent auction to benefit Spiva.
Around that time, my father had passed away. While walking next to a railroad track one day with my husband Richard, I noticed several pieces of metal in the shape of E’s and smiled thinking about my dad (Elliott Morse)... I felt he was spiritually inspiring me to create more angels to help benefit others. Our dad was well respected throughout the community and known for his giving of time and talent to others and I had been inspired to follow in his footsteps.
After that day I built an angel for myself...sort of a healing process to help with the loss of dad. It was an angel inspired by dad’s strength of faith and was a symbol of his incredible gift to his family as a father. In this piece he was the angel and he was holding his little girl Tricia. Notice the "E" & "T".
I soon began creating angel after angel (over 90) in his memory. I donated them to Spiva Center for the Arts with all proceeds going to the SpivaKids FunFund for children’s scholarships.
I've always been the tomboy, who hung out with my twin brother and his friends, never fearing to get dirty and messy. So, looking for scraps that are headed to a landfill, in parking lots, down alley ways, or on abandoned railroad tracks, is an exciting adventure for me.
In June of 2007, my sister Mary and I collaborated to create Lemon Oak Studio and we opened an Etsy shop to sell artwork online. We live 1300 miles away from each other, I live in Missouri and Mary lives in Arizona. The company name was derived from the lemon tree in Mary's yard and the oak trees in my yard. Mary and I began growing our business. Check out Lemon Oak Studio's facebook page.
Late 2010 I decided I would begin devoting more of my artistic time to painting. At that time I was represented by 4 galleries and was keeping busy painting for them and attending art shows.
In the Spring of 2011 I was beginning to prepare for the Midwest Gathering of the Artists an annual September show held in Carthage Missouri. I had also just been inducted into the Women Artists of the Midwest by Hawthorn Gallery in Springfield and was preparing for an October show with them.
And then tragedy struck on May 22th, one of the worst tornadoes in history hit Joplin, Missouri.
After the tornado I was overwhelmed and saddened by the loss of life and property. Although my immediate family did not lose our home, so many of my friends and family members were affected. While out helping them I thought about the enormous amount of destruction the tornado caused.
Some of my friends suggested that I make angels out of the tornado debris. At first I didn't feel I should, I didn't feel it would be appropriate. But after I started hearing all of the miracles concerning angels during the tornado, I was inspired and began to feel how important it was to build them.
I started "Angels for Joplin," and since late June 2011 have created hundreds of angels. Several angels have also been donated to special causes for special fundraisers.
Debris has been collected throughout the path of the storm. In particular St. Mary’s Church, Parish Center and Elementary School ( two of our daughters attended) I have created several angels using pieces from this area.
Many people responded to Angels for Joplin, and it wasn’t long before I was getting special requests for angels.
I had heard many stories about that tragic day in May. Several people brought me items from their destroyed or damaged homes wanting me to create an angel for them.
Many were in tears, overwhelmed with the tragedy and the loss.
This was my way to help do my part to bring hope to Joplin through my Angels for Joplin.
Angels: not only a theme among many survivors’ accounts, but a defining feature for Courtney’s artwork.
Her artwork inspires people to think differently about Joplin–as a memorial and as a hopeful, united community.
— Vox Magazine
Visit the Angels for Joplin facebook page.