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 my sister calls "treasures." As she walks, bikes, explores, she finds objects that may look like discarded junk to most people, but to her artistic eye, each piece is a part of a puzzle making up a recycled masterpiece. With a degree in Fine Arts, Tricia is an oil painter and the creator of her own line of children's characters "The Buzzlewics." With a degree in Fine Arts, Tricia is an oil painter and the creator of her own line of children's characters "The Buzzlewics. and the "Zoppyzeeps."

She 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, they found a few handfuls of rusty metal. Her 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, our father had passed away. While walking next to a railroad track one day with her husband Richard, Tricia noticed several pieces of metal in the shape of E’s and smiled thinking about her dad (Elliott Morse)... she felt he was spiritually inspiring her 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.















After that day she built an angel for herself...sort of a healing process to help with the loss of her dad. It was an angel inspired by her 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".


Tricia soon began creating angel after angel (over 90) in his memory. She donated them to Spiva Center for the Arts with all proceeds going to the SpivaKids FunFund for children’s scholarships. She also has donated angels to various charities and organizations.


Tricia has always been the tomboy, who hung out with her 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 her. In fact, she's become quite fanatical about it!

In June of 2007, Tricia and Mary, Tricia's sister collaborated to create Lemon Oak Studio and opened their Etsy shop to sell their artwork online. They are 1300 miles away from each other, Tricia lives 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 Tricia's. Lemon Oak Studio creates not only angels, but flower pots, flowers and crosses out of found objects. Mary is the business manager and also creates some of the artwork for

Lemon Oak Studio.












 Visit us on Lemon Oak's facebook!


Tricia was featured at the Strecker-Nelson Gallery in Manhattan Kansas in March 2010. For this particular exhibit she created large abstract pieces, a few of them that were left after the show are currently being shown at the Rose Gallery of Fine Art in Joplin, Missouri.

Late 2010 Tricia decided she would begin devoting more of her artistic time to her oil paintings. She is represented by 4 galleries and keeps busy painting for them and attending art shows.

In the Spring of 2011 Tricia was beginning to prepare for the Midwest Gathering of the Artists an annual September show held in Carthage Missouri. She 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 Tricia was overwhelmed and saddened by the loss of life and property. Although her immediate family did not lose their home, so many of her friends and family members were affected. While out helping them she thought about the enormous amount of destruction the tornado caused.


Some of her friends suggested that she make angels out of the tornado debris. At first she didn't feel she should, Tricia didn't feel it would be appropriate.
But after she started hearing all of the miracles concerning angels during the tornado, she was inspired and began to feel how important it was to build them.















Tricia started "Angels for Joplin," and since late June 2011 has 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 (the Courtney’s two daughters attended) Tricia has created several angels using pieces from this area.


Some of the pieces on the angels were inside the storage unit that burned down on 4th Street in Joplin about a week after the tornado. They were given to Tricia by Jo Mueller, the director of Spiva Center for the Arts and her husband who had their home damaged by the tornado and had put all of their most precious & important items there, thinking the brick building was a safe place....:

Many, many people have responded to Angels for Joplin. And it wasn’t long before Tricia was getting special requests for angels.

Tricia has heard many stories about that tragic day in May. Several people have brought her items from their destroyed or damaged homes wanting her to create an angel for them. Many are in tears, overwhelmed with the tragedy and the loss. But they are coping, they are going on with their lives and feel so much gratitude for the people that came to Joplin from all over to help with the recovery effort.

This is one of Tricia's ways to help do her part to bring hope to Joplin through her angels.

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

© Tricia Courtney

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