Artist Spotlight: Lee Morais

"Evening Blues", Lee Morais

“Evening Blues”
Lee Morais
Oil on Canvas

Barnett Fine Art has new works available from Lee Morais! Lee Morais is a New Orleans-based artist who works with a variety of mediums. Morais is best known for his unique and colorful mixed media collages. Let’s take a look at Morais’ life and work.


Lee Morais earned a B.A. at Tulane University in 1958 and a M.F.A. at Indiana University in 1960. It was at Tulane University that Morais met his future mentor, Hal Carney. Carney was the instructor for a class that Morais attended. This is where Morais first encountered the idea that the process of creation is more important than the finished work. At the end of every class, Carney would have his students throw their works in the trash. Morais embraced this process, learning that it’s better to take a risk and learn from a mistake than never try anything new for fear of compromising the work. Of this process, Morais says, “I believe an artist must be brave and have courage, the courage to risk. I play the, ‘what if,’ and, ‘why not,’ game with each piece on which I work. Often, taking a risk means losing the work, but without risk there is no learning.”


After graduating with a B.A. from Tulane University and a M.F.A. from Indiana University, Morais went on to enjoy a fulfilling career as an artist, filmmaker, museum educator, and professor. For over 25 years, Morais taught art and filmmaking at Michigan State University, Towson State University, the University of New Mexico, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he chaired the Fine Arts Department.

Morais has had his art represented in galleries in New Orleans, Santa Fe, and Washington, D.C. He has also acted as an arts administrator with the Arts Council of New Orleans and Director of Education at the New Orleans Museum of Art, where he established one of the first permanent interactive educational installations in the United States, the stARTing Point.

Using his extensive expertise and experience with arts and filmmaking, Morais decided to give back to his community by helping to administer a Percent for Art program that helped artists create works for public facilities.


The works of Lee Morais exhibit a playful quality; it is easy to see why Morais takes so much pride in creating exhibits for children’s museums! While colorful and playful, Morais’ works also exude the restrained and careful skill of an artist who has invested a lot of time dabbling with different methods and processes to see what works best.

While many of Morais’ works are multimedia collages, he is also well known for his compositions made of pieces of frames and glass from mirrors. Recently, Morais has taken a foray into oil painting, creating several images of sunsets and nightscapes that Patty Barnett describes as following a theme of “forces of nature”. No matter what medium Morais is experimenting with, all of his works are unique originals.

Of his personal artistic process, Morais says, “For me one of the most important parts of the creative process is listening to the work and letting the work tell me what it wants. I spend as much time with the work looking and listening as touching and adding and changing.” Morais’ balance of playfulness and carefully curated skill is evident in all of his works. See our selection of Morais’ works on our Lee Morais page.


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