The New Britain City Journal is currently running a series of articles introducing residents of the New Britain Artists’ Cooperative. This article is the ninth of the series.
Damion Morgan, a poet, musician and painter who works as a community school director by day, came to New Britain about seven years ago to be one of the first residents of the New Britain Artists’ Cooperative.
“I was born an artist, so it is part of who I am,” says Morgan. “It was never a conscious decision.” Morgan says that his work is inspired by his life experience and that his greatest artistic achievements have been self-publishing a book of poetry and recording a spoken word album.
“Art is a form of therapy, and when people experience the art of others it is a form of healing,” he says. “Because my art covers a wide range it can touch many people. If I can’t reach them with sound I can with words or visually.”
Morgan says that what he values most in art is its “all-encompassing nature” and says that he is a fan, in particular, of Langston Hughes.
He has enjoyed “being able to connect with other artists” in the Cooperative, and that if he didn’t live there, he would be on the west coast or down south.
He wishes that the Cooperative would “revert back to the original plans and scope” involving a café and gallery on the first floor, run and managed by resident artists.
“New Britain needs a vibrant and safe downtown to attract a wider variety of people within and outside of the city,” says Morgan. “The perfect model is Main Street in Middletown. There are multiple options for people to eat, drink and be entertained. New Britain lacks all of that, so there is nothing to draw anyone downtown for any reason.”
When asked about arts in the city, he says, “the existence of NBMAA and other museums and performance places [reflects that the city values the arts], but it doesn’t really cater to a younger crowd.”
Residents of the Cooperative describe Morgan as “smart,” “political” and “missing.”
“I never see him. I’d like to see more of his work,” says one neighbor.
“I don’t know much about him,” says resident, Jim Malloy.
“I really wish he would do more,” says neighbor Nicki LaPorte. “I say this as his friend.”
“I’m pretty sure that I’ve had more contact with our mail carrier than I have had with Damion,” says another resident.