Zoe Trask Data News Weekly Contributor
At a young age, her paintings could not go unseen. Little Morrah knew that her artistry deserved to be showcased on a greater scale, and not just only on paper. With watercolor paint, she marked her territory along the walls of her house and across her headboard. Although her behavior was normal for an imaginative child, something about her was special.
“In elementary school, her art teacher called her an artist,” said Valerie Burton, Morrah’s mother. “It was those words that changed everything for us,” she added.
On Monday, August 31st, Google announced that Morrah Burton-Edwards was one of five national finalists for its 2020 Doodle for Google Competition, after she was selected as the winner for the State of Louisiana for grades 10 through 12. Her piece, titled “Love Made Visible,” depicts several Black figures embracing each other to convey the ideas of kindness, love, and family within the Black community. Burton-Edwards’ piece instantly became a sensation on social media, where she received overwhelming support from major artists and the Black community in just a matter of days. While reflecting on the popularity of her creation, Burton-Edwards raises the issue of Black art being underrepresented by making it her responsibility to showcase it herself.
“If you don’t draw people that look like you, then who do you expect to do it?” Burton-Edwards said.
Amidst the Black Lives Matter Movement and racial turmoil in America, Burton-Edwards has received strong support for her work.
“Her Black figures were needed in a time when we needed some good news for Black folks,” Valerie Burton said.
Now 17 years old, Burton-Edwards attends Lusher Charter School and is a high school senior. As a Doodle for Google National Finalist, Burton-Edwards will receive a Google College Scholarship, and should she win the National Title, her Doodle will be featured for a day on the Google homepage. At Lusher, she is involved in the Certificate of Artistry in Visual Arts Program, where she has built a portfolio of her work and excels as a diligent student. Burton-Edwards’ dedication to art has left a unique mark on her peers, especially on her teachers. Jessica Brown, her visual arts teacher, noted the memorable moment when she noticed her student’s portrait painting on the back of a denim jacket.
“It was so great to see someone taking that artistic skill and transforming it into fashion,” Brown said.
Although Edwards intends to shine a light on the Black community, she specifically encourages Black women artists to hold on to their passion. She stresses the importance of having a role model and using that inspiration to create something innovative.
“My top artists are Kerry James Marshall, Amy Sherald, Kehinde Wiley, and Kadir Nelson,” Burton-Edwards said.
On Friday, September 11th, Edwards launched her online gallery and merchandising shop on her website, www.morrahbe.com. Since her launch, she has received several orders, and soon fans nationwide will be able to take pieces of her creations everywhere they go.
“Everybody is supportive of her,” Valerie Burton said. “You can’t help but be supportive,” she added.