Student pilot showcases paintings in Columbus’s Art Walk

  • Published
  • By 14th Flying Training Wing
  • Tech. Sgt. Christopher Gross
Second Lt. Morgan Eckert, 14th Student Squadron student pilot, showcased some of her paintings during the Art Walk Sept. 27 in downtown Columbus, Mississippi.

The Art Walk allowed artist to be paired with downtown business owners, and their artwork was displayed inside the shops. According to the local news station WCBI-TV, the event has grown so much in the past several years, that artist now line the sidewalks and occupy Leadership Plaza.

Eckert, who’s flying with the 37th Flying Training Squadron, said she doesn’t normally display her art, however, the opportunity was just presented and she said she thought “since I have the paintings I might as well. I like getting to know the local people.” During the Art Walk, Eckert showed off more than 10 pieces of work, with the center piece being a large painting of a horse. She saw a similar painting of the horse she painted at her former roommate’s house in Kentucky one day and really liked it, “I’ll just paint one for myself.”

As much as Eckert said she enjoys painting and drawing, she said she doesn’t get nearly as much time to do it as she’d like. However, she recalled what really got her interested in art. As a little girl rummaging through the attic one day, she came across a bunch of her mother’s sketch books.

“That’s kind of what sprouted my interest, cause then her and I would get out some coloring books or just do a lot of doodling together. I enjoyed that as a kid,” Eckert said.

“My middle school art teacher, Mrs. Spoltman, saw my potential and encouraged me to challenge myself. That’s when I began filling my free time with painting and sketching,” Eckert explained. As she got older she said she would use painting as a way to unwind and relax.

“It allows me to get away,” she said. “Through high school and even through college, when I would get stressed or before a test I would just sit down and do a lot of painting.”

A lot of her paintings come from requests from friends or family, or she spends time painting scenes that have meaning to her. Something she’s currently working on is for her grandfather, who was recently admitted to a nursing home unexpectedly. Growing up, she said her grandfather was one of her best friends, so she wants to surprise him with something the next time she heads home to Fort Wayne, Indiana. The painting will be of her grandfather sitting in a donut shop, which is where he use to spend a lot of time, and where, in the last few years, she had the best conversations with him.

Eckert said she has also done a lot in the past for the squadrons she’s been in, designing patches, coins and other pieces of art work. Enlisting into the Indiana Air National Guard in 2012, she said this has been some of her favorite works to produce. Eckert’s journey to being a pilot started back in 2012; after basic training, she was sitting in the dining facility on Shepherd Air Force Base, Texas, and saw aircraft flying around and thought, “that will one day be me.”

Several years later, after spending her time in the Guard with the 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne, Indiana, as a fuel system mechanic, Eckert commissioned as an active-duty second lieutenant through the AFROTC detachment at Indiana State University. Now, in phase two of Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, Class 19-18, she said she’s excited to get going.

“I’m really excited about the flying aspect of it,” Eckert said. “I love traveling … there’s so much out there, so many opportunities.”