Through the use of clay, Morel simultaneously expresses beauty and anguish while reflecting on issues related to race and the decaying environment. Unifying elements from land and sea, Morel amplifies the socio-environmental experience of the African diaspora, particularly Afro-Caribbeans, through ecological metaphors of Black fragility, skin bleaching and colorism.
Inspired by scientific research, environmental research and personal experiences, the title, Follicles | Cells | Biota refers to an ecology of systems that examines the relationships between organisms and their physical surroundings. Together, the title and artwork provoke conversations about people of color and their complex relationship to their physical surroundings. Through intensive detailed labor, Morel constructs beautiful and fragile ceramic pieces that mimic the current state of our dying coral reef systems as a representation of Black fragility. As a result of our current political climate, people of color have been forced to prioritize social and political issues, like racial discrimination, segregation, and disenfranchisement, which pose the most apparent danger to their livelihoods and environment. Decaying buildings, polluted air from factories and crowded living conditions make up the ecological environment of inner city Blacks, while suburban whites have an ecological environment that reflects more suitable living conditions in terms of greener communal spaces and adequate city maintenance. These two ecologies - coral reef systems and the Black community - bare the weight of unforeseen circumstances of waste pollutants and lead poisoning at the hands of environmental policymaking.
Although navigating the world as a Black Man is full of anguish, Morel still sees the beauty in his fragile existence, the same way he sees beauty and hope in a dying environment. Follicles | Cells | Biota aims to envision a new environmental renaissance in which the African Diaspora have the agency to play an active role in reclaiming the health and autonomy of their communities; so that their living conditions do not become a sentence to an early, systemic, and intergenerational death. If, as a global collective, we can come together and save the Great Barrier Reefs, then there can be hope for the African Diaspora.