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George Antony Morton, “Master of Light”

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George Anthony Morton, Master of light
March 15, 2022 in Austin, Texas. Master of Light won the Grand Jury Award for Documentary Feature at SXSW. He went on to claim the cinematography prize at the Atlanta Film Festival and the award for Best First Feature at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival in the U.K.

Who is George Antony Morton? 

George Antony Morton was born in 1983 in Kansas City, Missouri; his mother, Tela, was fifteen. At nineteen years old, Tela had 11 children, “If there was a neighborhood drug house, that is where we moved,” said George Anthony in the documentary “Master of Light.”

Tela used and sold drugs. “she was a hustler,” like her mother before her. She was in and out of prison. George and his siblings were often left to their own devices and had to raise themselves; their Neighborhood offered minimal options to find means to earn money, so with his siblings, he did like every one of the kids in his Neighborhood; he stole and sold drugs.

At school, his teachers recognized his artistic talent and encouraged him to pursue his education in the arts. Still, George Anthony saw the more significant gap between his dreams and circumstances. He said the older brother of 10 siblings, a mother, “was more like another sister.” It was inevitable he became a low-level drug dealer. He went in and out of jail like his mother all his youth; then, at 19 years old, he received an 11-year sentence at a federal prison for possessing 2 ounces of crack.  

Cross Road

During his incarceration, George Antony had two options: to join a gang or educate himself and focus on art. He chose the latter; he was a veracious reader and diligently practiced drawing and painting like the masters, his favorite artist being Rembrandt. Inmates and guards recognized him for his exceptional talent, and he was constantly solicited for his work. He used his talent to request to be transferred to a better prison condition. The positive feedback and encouragement he received for his work during his incarceration gave him great comfort and confidence. 

George Anthony Morton, Master of light

At the end of his sentence, he moved to Atlanta, GA. He immediately hit the pavement with his portfolio, looking for a job in the art world and his services as a portrait painter. His first job was a commission by a sports club owner. Several weeks later, a board member of the Florance Academy of Art saw his work, contacted him, and invited him to finish his education at one of the most prestigious art schools. 

At the academy for three years, Georges studied and worked very hard; he was now in his mid-thirties. He strived in his studies and crafts and earned several awards, such as the competitive awards for Best Figure Drawing in 2015 and Best Portrait Drawing in 2016. George Anthony was the proudest graduate on Planet Earth. Not only did he graduate with honors, but he was also the first African American from the Florance Academy of Art to do so.

George Anthony Morton is now internationally recognized as a classical drawing and painting artist; his work has been featured in The New York Times and USA Today and exhibited in Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, curated by Nicole Fleetwood at MoMA PS1.   

Master of light 

The Documentary “Master of Light” featured on HBO is an account of his journey, “Prison happened because of his social surroundings, and he had a choice to make.” This documentary is just the beginning of his journey. To say that prison was the best thing that happened to him would be wrong and dismiss everything else that happened to him. He said it best: “I am not what has happened to me; I am what I choose to be. ” G. A. Morton. 

Prison, Art, and Happy Ending

Prison happened because of his social surroundings, and he had a choice. To say that prison was the best thing that happened to him would be wrong and dismiss everything else that happened to him. He said it best: “I am not what has happened to me; I am what I choose to be. ” G. A. Morton. 

The life of George Antony Morton could sound like a fairy tale; the story is set in a poor, dangerous, drug-infested neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri; by the end of the story, George Anthony is an affluent portrait artist, moved with his girlfriend and his daughter at the suburbs of Atlanta, GA, he opened “Atelier South” in the spirit of the old masters, his art is recognized internationally, he is featured in prestigious galleries and museums. END…cut… let the generic roll… And he lived happily ever after… is it? We will hear a lot about George Antony; he just started: “I have one foot in my past and one foot out.” he said. it is a daily struggle.

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Documentary about George Anthony Morton, a classical painter who spent ten years in federal prison, travels to his hometown to paint his family members.

George Anthony Morton Legacy.

His life goal is to master light, bring out the beauty of black of all shades, and send the message that we are not our circumstances but we are what we want to be.

George Anthony Morton, Founder and Director, Atelier South, info@ateliersouth.com