Sister Gertrude Morgan was born in 1900 to a family of farmers in rural Alabama. Her unique religiously-infused work would go on to become some of the most important outsider art of the 20th century.
In her late teens, Sister Gertrude moved with her family to Columbus, Georgia, where the beginnings of her religious fervor were first cultivated. Around the age of 28, she received the first of numerous divine revelations instructing her to leave behind her so-called "wild and secular youth" to sing and preach the gospel. In 1938, she left behind her family and moved to New Orleans, where she felt she could fulfill her new life's mission most effectively. Once in New Orleans, she encountered two missionaries, Mother Margaret Parker, and Sister Cora Williams, and the three soon discovered they had a common calling. Soon thereafter, they set up a mission and a home for children in Parker's home on Flake Avenue.
It was after this experience that Sister Gertrude realized her art could have a profound impact on her life's work. She moved in with an elderly widow by the name of Jennie Johnson and converted the home into her base of operations for her ministry. She conducted prayer services that combined contemporary preaching with improvised song and dance.
In 1960, she met the well-known entrepreneur and art dealer Larry Borenstein, who invited Sister Gertrude to perform and show her work in his gallery. This was the beginning of a 20-year relationship that saw Sister Gertrude's work reach new audiences across the country.
In 1974, Sister Gertrude made the surprising decision to stop making her art and instead focus on her poetry. In her words, the Lord thought her fame and income generated from her work was simply unacceptable. Six years later, Sister Gertrude passed away and was buried in Providence Memorial Park Cemetery outside the city of New Orleans.