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Margaret Morton has photographed the dwellings that homeless people in New York City create for themselves since 1989. Her project has taken her to public parks, city-owned vacant lots, along the waterfront and into underground tunnels. Photographs and oral histories from her ongoing project have been published in three books: Fragile Dwelling: Homeless Communities of New York City [Aperture, fall 2000]; The Tunnel: The Underground Homeless of New York City [Yale University Press, fall 1995; Schirmer/Mosel, Germany, 1996]; and Transitory Gardens, Uprooted Lives [co-authored with Diana Balmori, Yale University Press, fall 1993].

Morton’s exhibitions and books have been published and reviewed in Aperture, Art Forum International, Art in America, The Atlantic Monthly, DoubleTake, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The San Francisco Chronicle, U.S. News & World Report, Village Voice, The Washington Post, as well as such international publications as The Times, The Guardian, The Independent/Sunday Review, Evening Standard, and Time Out [London]; Die Zeit and Der Spiegel [Germany]; and Asahi [Tokyo]. Her project is featured in the PBS documentary: Jacob Riis…Revisited [Pacific Street Films].

Morton's project has been funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Foundation of the Arts, and the Graham Foundation.

Photographs from the project have been exhibited throughout the United States, including the The Museum of the City of New York, New Museum for Contemporary Art [New York], the National Building Museum [Washington DC], Cranbrook Art Museum [Michigan], and the Wexner Center for the Arts [Columbus]. The project also has been exhibited in Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy, and Korea. Morton’s photographs are in the collections of the New York Public Library and Museum of the City of New York.

Morton, who received her MFA from the Yale University School of Art, is a professor of art at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Her photographs are represented by Margaret Bodell Gallery, New York City.

Margaret Morton's black-and-white photographs of environments that were created by the homeless people of New York City are all about making something from nothing. Morton's respect for the ingenuity of the men and women who built these shelters is clear. The photographs capture their architectural resourcefulness, and Morton's work neither romanticizes nor sentimentalizes; it simply honors what she found: the need to have a place of one's own. As we see in her pictures, rubble and discarded wood can be as powerful as marble.
—The New Yorker

Email: morton@fragiledwelling.com

Book information

Tompkins Square Park, 1989
Tompkins Square Park, 1989

Wanda and Juice's House, 1991
Wanda and Juice's House, 1991

Mizan, East River, 1993
Mizan, East River, 1993

Esteban and Ramon, The Tunnel, 1994
Esteban and Ramon, The Tunnel, 1994

Emilio, Rail Yard, 1996
Emilio, Rail Yard, 1996

Chinatown, 1999
Chinatown, 1999




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All contents copyright (C) 2000, Margaret Morton. All rights reserved.
Revised: October 2000