Blue Pencils | Artist Statement | Dianne Sullivan Morton

Blue Pencils is an autobiographical series concerning my early consciousness regarding mortality. By definition, “mortality” is the state of being susceptible to death. Any sensible adult understands that death is destined at the instant of one’s first breath; however, as a child growing up during the late 1960s and 1970s, it was impossible for me to comprehend such a notion.

When I was a girl, my father worked as the county’s deputy coroner and as a mortician. Over time, my father became quite well known in the community, not only because he buried many people in town but also for his kindheartedness. When I was in first grade, our teacher asked the class what each of our fathers did for work. I raised my hand to answer, “My dad makes blue pencils.” I proceeded to proudly hold up my blue pencil, which had my last name printed in gold letters: “Sneider & Sullivan Funeral Home.” 

It was not until the following year, when I was in second grade, that I began to understand how my father truly spent his time at work. It was the day I learned that Jimmy Alden, the boy who sat in front of me, died over the weekend after being hit by a car. After the morning school bell rang, our second-grade teacher briefly explained to our class that Jimmy was in Heaven. I remember searching the empty desk in front of me for the back of the boy with short, blond hair. However, Jimmy was absent: That part, I understood. Upon our return from recess, the empty desk in front of me had been removed, and Jimmy was gone. At the end of the week, our class attended the funeral; standing with Jimmy’s white casket, was my father.

With endless passion, verve, and spirit, I create photographs that intertwine delicate, intangible elements of my memory to communicate the loss of a young friend and the realization of my father’s work as a mortician.

Ocean I

"We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came." —John F. Kennedy

Ocean II

Paper | Artist Statement

I have focused on exploring and creating visual perception in my work. Merging my artistic visualization with abstract interpretation, allows a distinct examination of light and space. With these concepts in mind, I offer my audience an inimitable view of something that may have once gone unnoticed—an interpretation that is vague or unanswerable, thereby creating puzzlement, uncertainty, or ambiguity.