American, b. 1983, Nevada City, CA
lives and works in Oakland, CA

Crystal Morey sculpts porcelain animal-human hybrids as an exploration of the effects of post-industrial advancements on natural ecosystems. Drawing from contemporary environmental narratives and a range of art historical visuals, her work highlights vulnerable species interwoven with human counterparts. Morey has been an artist-in-residence at the LH Project, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, and the Penland School of Craft.

Recent works presented in her solo exhibition Venus on the Waves (2019) were acquired by the Crocker Museum of Art, (Sacramento, CA), and the Monterey Museum of Art, (Monterey, CA). Her work has been shown nationally and internationally at 19 Karen Contemporary Artspace, (Queensland, Australia), the Antler Gallery, (Portland, OR) and the Frick Pittsburgh, (Pittsburgh, PA). In 2006, Morey completed her BFA from California College of the Arts, and she received her MFA from San Jose State University in 2012. Morey is represented by Ferrin Contemporary.

Crystal Morey, “Three Graces” 2019, hand-sculpted porcelain, 19 x 10 x 8″


I find interest in capturing the connections we all share in the natural world around us. Driven by contemporary environmental issues and inspired by art history, I want to illuminate the stories of today, while continuing a visual language of the past. Showing that we are all linked through land and time, dependent on each other for the long-term health of our planet.

Since the Industrial Revolution, human expansion and resource consumption has grown, leading many creatures to live within stressed ecosystems. Through climate change and habitat loss, we find ourselves affecting the wellbeing of plants, animals and the wild lands around us. I am interested in how we as humans understand such difficult situations, find solutions, and continue to move forward.

Through the delicacy of porcelain, I am capturing the environmental situations of today, and the physical and emotional weight they contain. With creatures that share hybrid elements of human, animal and plant attributes, my creations share a heightened sense of interconnectedness and precarious balance.  With particular interests in vulnerable species, my focus is in depicting endangered or extinct creatures and the biodiversity found in their habitats.

Pulling from traditions of realism, craftsmanship, and art historical porcelain, I am looking to incorporate these customs of beauty, while also building a contemporary, science-based, environmental narrative of today. A story that reminds us of the importance of our natural spaces, and that all living creatures are connected through a thread of time and a fragile world.

“Nature/Nurture” Installation View, Crystal Morey, Mara Superior, Kardi Parnamets, 2020.


I grew up in Northern California of the 1980s and 90s, influenced by the movements of free speech, feminism, and living close to the land. My ideas of gender were rooted in feminine strength, connected to the power of nature. As my love for nature, equality, and art have grown, becoming my own, I have realized the historical absence of female voices depicting our bodies and experiences. Now, as a woman and an artist, I want to reclaim the art historical nude with its powerful beauty, relationship to the natural world, and the ability to share a new, contemporary narrative.

Reclaiming the feminine body as containing autonomy, self-determination, and strength are important in my creations. Pulling from traditions of classical beauty and realism, while also using exaggerated gesture and body positivity is very important. I am continually looking to create figures with emotional strength, luscious sexuality, and evocative forms that share a kind of raw power and self-containment.


Ferrin Contemporary, Crystal Morey, “Venus on the Waves” 2019 Installation View.


Venus on the Waves is in the permanent collection of the Getty Museum, and was shown with Boucher’s original panel grouping of six, at the Legion of Honor’s exhibition, “Casanova: The Seduction of Europe”, in 2018. Boucher’s luscious figures embody weightlessness and beauty, some floating amongst the clouds, others rolling in the surf as sea creatures emerge from the water below. Boucher paints a sugary world of decadence and lust that can only exist in thought, one of longing emotion, physical charm, and a romantic natural world.

The inspiration for “Venus on the Waves” is seeded in the contrast we see in Boucher’s lavish world and today’s land of human consumption and environmental destruction.

The weight, turbulence and unease of our changing natural environment with climate change, habitat loss and ocean acidification is felt in the relationship between these porcelain hybrid creatures. They embody our instinct of yearning, searching for an answer and a place of knowledge and rest.  Carried by creatures of the sea, these figures show a narrative of human, plant and animal connection and dependence, one that encourages the cultivation of balance in our changing natural environment.


Crystal Morey: Venus on the Waves Catalog

The 8.5 x 11″ booklet includes 16 beautiful pages of images and text from the “Venus on the Waves” exhibition
at Ferrin Contemporary in 2019.

Read more about the exibition, HERE.

The book also includes a wonderful essay by writer Maria Porges, “Claiming Beauty: Crystal Morey’s Venus on the Waves”.

Excerpt from Maria Porges Essay:

All of Morey’s therianthropes have a kind of contained power, even when their poses might bely such a reading. A closer examination of the passive contrapposto of the standing figures in Three Gracesreveals a kind of watchful alertness. Positioned back to back around a tree stump, they are warriors creating a united defense. Rhino and mountain lion have their arms intertwined, but the gesture looks protective rather than girlishly affectionate. Alert, all three scan the horizon, dependent on each other for safety. As Morey has put it, “The rhino, mountain lion and human are all in danger of habitat loss, and extinction- although the human is just now realizing how delicate her situation is, and how dependent she is on the well -being of the creatures and environments around her.”

Like these three, Morey reminds us, all living creatures are connected. Multiple-figure compositions– a first for her—have enabled her to address increasingly complex issues. The result is a body of work in which several different meanings can be slowly unpacked, even as the immediate physical appeal of the figures provides pleasure. “You can come in at whatever level you want, but hopefully it will make you think about something you haven’t previously considered… I don’t know if this work will make a change, but I hope it instigates a conversation.”