Haven America

Text by Katie Wood

Artist Gregory Morris turns Southern charm into works of art. 

From the “hey y’all” and “yes ma’am” signs to the extra large flatware cutouts, Gregory Morris’s Haven America handcrafted woodwork is reflective of the culture found right outside his New Orleans studio.

Haven America offers more than 300 unique wooden signs and is continually explaining their inventory as Gregory says, “New Orleans is a library of ideas to pull from.”

Gregory has been an artist all his life and after spending 25 years in Chicago working on advertising campaigns for companies like Hershey’s, Namco, Caterpillar, and McDonald’s, he decided to leave the big city.

He first moved his family to a farm in North Carolina where he could create his own artistic works. “I spent so many years as an adult working and creating for others, but I never that that I had enough to say artistically to make a living as an artist—that’s been my biggest revelation within the business,” Gregory said.

While living in North Carolina, Gregory said he was constantly hearing those quintessential Southern phrases like, “hey y’all” and “darlin’.” Pretty soon, the Southern slang began to pepper his exchanges, and his family started to say, “You’re slippin’ Southern on us.” The aesthetic and the vernacular of the South stuck with Gregory, and his art reflected this cultural influence.

After a few years in North Carlolina, Gregory slipped further South to continue making art and pursue his dream of living in New Orleans. “The creative process is a 24/7 lifestyle,” he says, and New Orleans is the perfect location for his talent and passion to take root.