Cora Ennis Morris’s ‘What Lies Beneath’ debuts at Cedar House

Cora Ennis Morris brings to light issue of the world’s declining coral reefs through her art.
Photo-encaustic artistic Cora Ennis Morris found her inspiration behind her latest series of works, “What Lies Beneath,” at Cedar House Gallery from the documentary “Chasing Coral” that she saw at the Savannah College of Art and Design Film Festival in 2017. From that moment, she realized the vital role that reef systems play in our ecosystem and felt compelled to create this collection of art to bring attention to the decline in coral reefs globally.

“There are many reefs across the globe that are being affected,” Morris said. “My focus for this series starts at Gray’s Reef, which is off the coast of Georgia, and ends at the world’s second-largest reef system, which is off the coast of Belize in Central America. What better place to start this series than in my own backyard?”

Through her travels, she brings transparency of the damages sustained by coral reefs worldwide through her visual art to people who don’t see coral reefs firsthand by snorkeling or scuba.

“Being an avid snorkeler for many years throughout the Caribbean and Mexico, I enjoy the beauty beneath the waves,” Morris said. “I feel compelled to raise awareness so that others can make changes in an effort to preserve this valuable ecosystem.”

Morris captured the photo entitled “Snapshots from below” from a snorkeling trip in Jamaica years ago and “Ariel view” of the great barrier reef in Belize. In her 12 x 12 piece, “What Lies Beneath,” depicts a tranquil, early sunrise, a picture that Morris took on Amelia Island.

“If you look at the image [“What Lies Beneath”] closely, toward the bottom you will see skeletons of dead coral reflecting in the water,” Morris added.

Morris brings the issue of our declining coral reefs to the forefront that are happening but often overlooked. Morris’s work focuses on Gray’s reef ending in the Caribbean and Belize, the second largest great barrier reef in the world. Her work in this collection utilizes nautical maps as the backdrop with whimsical shapes and textural sea fan overlays. This work narrates a story of the significance of color, depicting an accurate brownish color that a healthy coral has and bleached coral to that of dead coral. According to, environmental stressors like pollution are negatively affecting our ecosystem, which causes the coral to fade to white. If the coral is unable to grow algae, it will eventually die off. “The sea fans symbolize in some respects as water blocking the view,” Morris said. “What’s happening down below is not a clear picture. The big inspiration to bring this to the forefront was to make art, what I do best.”

Cora Ennis Morris shows “What Lies Beneath” with an opening reception June 11 from 6-9 p.m. at Cedar House Gallery. The exhibition will be on display from June 9 - June 15, and an artist talk will be held June 12 at 1 p.m. Visit her website, and find her on Instagram @coraennismorris.

About The Author

Nicole Youngblut

Nicole Youngblut is a contributing writer for Connect Savannah, where she covers the local art and events scene. As a graduate of The Fashion Institute of Technology, she spent many years in New York City as a fashion stylist and promoter. Her passion for biographies, entertainment and the arts is the perfect...
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