Maurice Pearson’s ambitious artistic vision unveiled in Rowan’s Spring Gallery

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A piece by Pearson inspired by artists Susan Moore and Gustave Courbet's "The Desperate Man." - Photo via Pearson's Instagram.

Maurice Pearson is a 21-year-old fine arts student minoring in art history. Currently, he is in his final year of study, preparing for his senior showcase but if you told him this is where he would end up ten years ago, he might not have believed you.

Originally from Burlington County, New Jersey, Pearson grew up on McGuire Air Force Base. Like many others his age, Pearson developed a love of anime and cartoons when he was younger, but for a while, there wasn’t a ton of interest beyond that.

“Most people in my major, I find, started doing art at a very young age, I started in high school….I thought I was going to be a math or finance person,” Pearson said.

It wasn’t until high school that Pearson took an art class, and his instructor inspired him to pursue traditional art. From there, he took increasingly more advanced classes which allowed him to build the portfolio which eventually got him into Rowan. 

He started out using ink and watercolor but has since transitioned into gouache and oil painting. The time it takes to create a piece varies by the size of the canvas. On average, a painting takes about 20-30 hours, but Pearson has also had paintings take him 50 hours or more. When he paints, Pearson comes up with a title first, then follows the standard process of deciding on composition through the use of thumbnail sketches, then creates a more refined sketch, and finally begins to paint.

Pearson does his oil paintings on campus in Rowan’s art studio, but he does have a spot carved out at home for his illustrative work.

“I work at a round glass table that I hate with an easel I can prop things up on,” Pearson continued. “And oh yeah, I need music. I listen to everything from classical to heavy metal.”

Pearson’s greatest influences include Cezanne, Caravaggio, and Kim Yung Gi.

As part of the graduation criteria, Pearson must participate in a showcase of his work that will be on display this spring in the second-floor gallery in Rowan’s Westby Hall. Pearson has chosen “The Human Condition” as his theme.

When asked about his motivations, Pearson said, “The simplest answer is I just enjoy painting people…I like to capture moments in humanity not really focused on….that resonates with me.”

One of the pieces he plans to include in the collection is an execution scene, titled “If There is God, Where is He?” The completed piece will be painted on a canvas measuring 5×7 feet, making it Pearson’s most ambitious project to date.

Upon completion of his bachelor’s degree, Pearson has plans of finding work at a museum or gallery. My dream is to make it as a full-time studio artist, with some illustrative work on the side that would be featured in magazines and books. Later down the line, he sees himself obtaining a master’s degree and maybe even working at a university like Rowan one day.

“I guess I create art because I love it, and you can decide if you like what I make or not,” said Pearson. “At the end of the day, it’s fine, because there is something in art for everyone, whether or not you want to admit it.”

For comments/questions about this story DM us on Instagram @thewhitatrowan or email the.whit.arts@gmail.com

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