Punto di Vista: April

Morgan Ervin:  Too Late for Goodbyes


Morgan Ervin’s Too Late for Goodbyes uses a visage of celebrities to question, even evaluate, the judgment we pass on others and most importantly on ourselves.  The burden of fame is heavy, and to draw text from one of Ervin’s images, “It’s very hard to live up to an icon” (Elvis).

For Ervin, the celebrity becomes an entry point for self-discovery. His works come charged as they feature some of contemporary culture’s most celebrated and notorious icons, among them Judy Garland, John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Che Guevara, Kurt Cobain, and Marilyn Monroe.

“Judy” by Morgan Ervin (Courtesy McNabb Martin Contemporary Art)

Each of these figures are celebrated and mourned; their life’s struggles were known and their ends, tragic.

Frames form through a slicing and melding of the images. Visages come fragmented, multiple, enlarged, or overlaid. These techniques create drama and tension that references the frenzy of fame and public obsession, and also literally engages the construct of self and identity.

The inclusion of text capitalizes on celebrity baggage and works to further invest the work. The text, each a quote by the celebrity depicted, connects the image with humanity. Through simple lines like “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are,” we engage moments of our own life (Cobain).

As we consider their lives and fate, we reevaluate our own battles, our own drive and desire. We confront weakness, feel anxiety from expectations, and worry – as these figures must have – about the heavy tax of judgments passed by others. We freeze for a moment; held in our own fear of stumbling, but when we are let go, we experience a sense of relief that Ervin hopes will allow for a renewed spirit, vigor for life, and an abandonment of judgment.

Through – May 31

McNabb Martin Contemporary Art

1990 Columbia Street


Jennifer DeCarlo is the owner/director of jdc Fine Art, a contemporary photography gallery in Little Italy. DeCarlo earned her MFA from UW-Madison and is active academically and professionally in her field as a panelist, folio reviewer, juror, and she writes for the international photography association, aipad. She can be reached at


Leave a Comment