Gregory Mortenson was born in 1976 in Saint George, Utah. He is a classically trained artist, known most for his intriguing and emotive portraits of Haitian children. After receiving his academic training, Mortenson and his wife were called on a humanitarian effort to Port au Prince. They were sent to help rebuild an orphanage that was destroyed in the earthquake of 2010. This experience brought him face to face with tragedy, and what he called “the beauty and triumph of the human spirit.” He made sketches of the children and their hopes for new homes and school. In 2013 he traveled back to Haiti to teach at an orphanage. During this time he was able to complete other figure studies which later informed his 2015 exhibition: Zion’s Children.
Mortensen says is biggest role models are his father and grandfather, both of which he describes as prolific draftsmen. This was how he began his artistic journey. He attended Southern Virginia University on a Wrestling Scholarship. After receiving and undergraduate degree in art, he returned to his family’s home in Utah to study with a local painter. His education then took him to New York, as he studied with other artists as well as completing the four year program at GCA. The majority of the figure paintings he completes are presented as simple portraits. Each one however, incorporates smaller elements that may not catch the viewer’s eye but convey the true reflection of life and emotion that each figure represents. He uses these to connect everyone to the great whole, to the human race in a broader sense.