Murray Morgan has been trucking, off and on, since he was 17 years old, and he’s been an artist since his 30s.
“I learned to drive a truck when my dad tossed me the keys,” he says. Today, the 62-year-old native of Sioux City, Iowa, is still trucking, and he’s also become an author, publishing Thoughts of An Average Joe.
Morgan’s road from trucker to artist to author has been long and winding. He took art classes in high school but only got serious about art in his 30s while a student at the University of Missouri. He dropped a five-hour French class, feeling himself overextended, and replaced it with a three-hour art class. He sat down at an easel and found himself at home. With the encouragement of a professor who recognized his talent for seeing things in 3-D, he transferred to Boise State University and earned his undergraduate degree in painting and sculpture.
Morgan planned to become an art teacher, but he was accepted into the Master of Fine Arts program at Bowling-Green University in Ohio. One of the perks of being a graduate student there was the opportunity to try teaching. He fell in love with teaching and earned a top teacher award for 1986.
Unable to get a teaching job after graduation, he went back to driving a truck. “I love to teach, but it’s not a demand in my life. I’ve never found it in me – a compulsion to go back.”
Finding himself back behind the wheel has been a blessing to his art career, because, he says, trucking is an inspiring career that offers solitude, time to think and an unending supply of images. “Trucking is a moving studio set. It creates its own images 100 percent of the time. When you’re driving through New Mexico in the dark of night, and it’s pitch black and all of a sudden there’s this jewel of light – the valley just fills up with light; it shines. If you’ve never done that, you should. Towns from a distance are light shows at night.
“As close as I – as close as any of us – ever get to being God-like is when I’m deep in the throes of creating. It happens on maybe eight or 10 pieces out of 100. I enjoy it immensely. I get into it so deeply that people can’t talk to me, because I’m just not there. It’s harder to do just standing, because the windshield of the truck defines areas – turn your head, and they change. A different view, a different perspective. You’re out in the open. If you’re in a classroom, there’s no delineation, no rapid change of perspective. It’s stunning. Absolutely stunning.”