Artwork Spotlight

Artwork Spotlight: Calvina Morgan’s Med Compliant

In the Artwork Spotlight series of blog posts, The Layered Onion highlights a specific work by an artist in the community. These works could range from short stories to visual art to music and more!

Today, Calvina Morgan (she/her) will be sharing her piece Med Compliant. Calvina took the time to participate in a Q+A with The Layered Onion:

How would you describe yourself or want to introduce yourself to The Layered Onion community?

I start with the phrase “a lot bipolar-a little artsy” because that is how I identify myself, an artist who struggles with Bipolar 1 Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder, GAD, and ADHD. I’m extremely med compliant though. I used to go on and off my medicine but I realize now, after several times of ruining my life, that medicine is key to my stability.

I’m an artist who tries to explore my fantasy world as well as my reality. Some of my art is cutesy and cartoons while other pieces are emotionally driven and speculative. I also write nonfiction and poetry as a way to cope with my feelings and complex inner life.

I currently live in East Nashville, TN, with my wife, 2 dogs, and 3 cats. It’s definitely a zoo here but my animals help keep me grounded.

Calvina Morgan, Med Compliant. Ink and paper, March 2022.

What inspired you for this piece?

This one was inspired by my struggle to be med compliant. Even though I am, it’s still a frustrating thing to have to take medication every day. Sometimes it feels like my mental illness can be a burden but I try to deal with it in a way that is healthy.

I like the use of color and the different types of pill split lines on the different pills. What made you decide to put which pill where?

The pills are from my own experiences with medications. I’ve tried the gamut of different medicines and currently take 6 different medications to be stable. One of the larger pills reads “Self Doubt” because that is something that is the forefront of my mind. I’m always doubting my abilities as an artist and writer. The rest of the pills are labeled with other negative thoughts and feelings that I experience on a daily basis, even with being med compliant.

Is there symbolism to the tongue being stuck out and reaching for the “bitter” pills? How did you decide the composition of the page?

I wanted the tongue to extend out as a symbol of my willingness to be med compliant. I’m determined to stay on my medications and wanted to convey this. As far as composition, I wanted it to be stark and monotone. I wanted the emphasis to be on the content and not the elements, though I feel both are important in creating art.

What mediums of artwork do you like to use? Is there anything unique that you’ve particularly enjoyed out of different tools you’ve tried?

I enjoy using a wide variety of mediums. My favorite is acrylic paint, but I also heavily use ink for the details. I also enjoy incorporating various mediums in one piece to give it a dynamic appearance. Probably the most unique medium I’ve used is tattooing. It is very different drawing something versus tattooing something.

Do you have any favorite tattoos you’ve designed?

Probably my favorite tattoo I’ve done is my Wanderlust tattoo on my left hand. It’s a simple line design of a camper, trees, and the moon but the significance of it is heavy. I’m constantly feeling the urge to uproot and move so this one is to remind me that no matter where I’m at, I need to find happiness in that.

You also mention that you dabble in writing. What kind of things do you like to write? What do you find most rewarding about it?

I write poetry and nonfiction mainly. Sometimes I will also write lyrics, though I’m not musically inclined. The most rewarding thing about writing is the expression of my feelings and the ability of writing to help me process those feelings. My mental illness makes me very aware of emotions and feelings, and I feel these things to extremes. I’m particularly sensitive to others’ feelings, which have a way of affecting my own emotions.

Thanks, Calvina, for sharing this bold piece! You can check out more of Calvina’s work at the following sites:

Art is available for perusal at and if you would like to see more from Calvina.