Emerging from the intersection between the marsh and the metal, Morgan Butler (also known as Mo), studies, observes, meditates, and strategizes around building new ecosystems centered around pleasure, magic, healing, and culture. Their work as a multimedia artist, performer, and educator is approached from a lens of “holistic hip-hop” — centering collaborative storytelling and intergenerational healing. Mo is a 2018 Loft Literary Center Spoken Word Immersion Fellow, 2x Harvard University AOCC Facilitator and TEDx Speaker, and was recently awarded as one of the 2020-21 Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs 40 Queer Women Under 40.
As an artist, energy worker, and Postpartum Doula, I believe that imagining new ecosystems of care are absolutely critical to our survival and our ability to thrive. In my most recent position as a Program Coordinator at the Platform of Hope, an organization that works specifically with Black, Brown, and Indigenous families in rapidly-gentrifying Ward 1, we found that amplifying family-centered advocacy, building social capital, and promoting socio-emotional wellness were key protective factors in keeping communities safe. To begin the process of imagining, one must open themselves up to history. Through collaborative storytelling is where this opening blooms! By holding space for this vulnerability and exercising my own, I hope to become a change agent of creative expression and freedom.
Amiri Baraka said, “There are people who actually believe that politicians are more powerful than artists — what a bizarre lie.” I believe a symbiotic relationship between creative arts and the political is not only possible, but a necessary key in movement work, and data-informed storytelling is at its core. I believe that together, we could continue amplifying powerful stories that reflect the whole truth of this city.
The Myth of Me: a Retelling of Emergence aims to explore the origins and journey of queer femininity as told by multiple voices (poetry, song, dance). often times, femmes are taught their existence solely through trauma, and The Myth of Me seeks to reclaim that trauma and explore how those teachings have been harnessed into joy, awareness, and resilience.
I envision the release of a digital zine or toolkit with a bite-sized storytelling-as-advocacy curriculum or guidance, in tandem with a community event such as a panel, Q&A, or storytelling writing/performance workshop (facilitated by myself and perhaps another performer from the show) hosted at Atlas Arts Lab. It could be interesting to do a writing/performance workshop and then host an open-mic or community reading/sharing space as well!
Why did you apply for Arts Lab?
As a DC native, I’m always looking for opportunities to connect the different creative ecosystems I find myself in. Atlas Arts Lab seemed like a unique opportunity to not only bring my work to a larger stage but develop meaningful relationships with an organization that has such deeply rooted history in the DC area. I saw very clearly that they were extending and reaching out for artists, so I reached back!
What have you already gained from being in the program?
I’ve gained so much clarity within my own self and what I’m capable of. I’ve been forced to really think about my work in unique and honestly absurd ways — the space we’ve been granted is so large and I really want to make use of it!
Why do you support the Atlas?
I support the Atlas because through this opportunity, they aren’t just supporting artists, but investing in them. I have deep respect for institutions and organizations that prioritize this type of collaboration; opportunities such as this can sow such deep seeds of trust and shared purpose between artists and those who support them.