Visual Arts

Michelles_Scriptures inspires South Florida fans on a personal level

Michelle Morgan poses as she writes in one of her journals at Larry and Penny Thompson Park, where she often writes and walks close to her home, near Cutler Ridge, on Wednesday, March 16, 2016.
Michelle Morgan poses as she writes in one of her journals at Larry and Penny Thompson Park, where she often writes and walks close to her home, near Cutler Ridge, on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. For the Miami Herald

Michelle Morgan’s writings are stenciled on public sidewalks throughout Miami. They have been photographed, posted and shared thousands of times. They’ve even inspired tattoos and wedding vows.

Such is the power of words.

The Miami writer and artist, who doesn’t reveal her true last name, had no idea she would have this impact on others when she first created her Instagram page, @Michelles_Scriptures, a little over a year ago. Nor did she foresee that sharing her writing publicly would become a catalyst not only to heal her broken heart but also help others.  

“I have always written, but on a much more personal level,” Morgan said. “I never once thought that anyone would read it or much less even start following me or reposting my words. In my mind, I was setting them free out in the world, no longer holding them captive. It was something that I did for my personal emotional liberation.”

Her collection of words includes nine quotes, as she calls them, that have been stenciled at more than 700 locations in Wynwood, Midtown, Port of Miami-Dade, downtown Miami, South Miami, Miami Beach and Palm Island. They are strategically placed where there is a lot of foot traffic, including near public parks and schools.

Morgan stencils her quotes at night, hoping she won’t be caught. Like graffiti, the stencils are illegally painted on public sidewalks.

She also sells various artworks using her written works on her Etsy store and is currently working on her first book.   

With social media, she has the ability to send her message far and wide and create a pay it forward effect. She encourages fans to take a “foot selfie” with the quote and post it with the hashtag #InspireLOVE.   

“Instead of seeing vulgar phrases or graffiti, why not stumble upon something that brightens your day and brings a smile to your face,” she said. “How often can one say that they walked into love?”

About three months after starting the posts and stencils, people began contacting her wanting to thank her and share their stories.

There is often an element of serendipity to those connections. That was the case with Anthony James, who was browsing Instagram on the morning of his wedding day and came across one of Morgan’s poems. It struck a chord and he sent her a private message asking for permission to incorporate into his wedding vows. Turns out they were friends in high school.

“In a world full of hate and chaos, her words remind me that love really does save us all, James said. “If I’m having a bad day I’ll check to her Instagram and read her poetry to pick me up throughout the day.”

One of her most popular quotes, the very first to hit the streets of Miami, “In the end, love will be what saves us all,” is forever etched on Tatiana Castro’s arm.

“Michelle’s words hit very close to home, so I decided to tattoo them in typewriter font on the side of my arm,” Castro said. “I stumbled upon her words at such a perfect time. I was going through a lot in life. Whether it’s falling in love, or loving all people even if you think you shouldn’t, love will always be the answer. If we all loved each other the world would be a better place.”

Most recently, Morgan made a custom piece for a woman from Atlanta who was vacationing in Miami when her husband was hospitalized. The woman had snapped a photo of the quote “In the end, what truly matters most is how well you rise after the fall.” After the couple returned home, the woman ordered the quote on a canvas, which Morgan builds from scratch.

“It is all so incredibly humbling to me. All of it. Each and every single day. Every repost, like, follow, kind word, it just all means so much. I am forever humbled,” Morgan said.    

Born and raised in Miami to Cuban parents, Morgan is also a musician who studied piano and violin. But she always kept her artistic side private, working instead in traditional jobs and now as a freelance publicist.

It was the end of a volatile relationship four years ago that drove her back to writing as a form of therapy, but this time it wasn’t enough anymore to put it on paper for herself.

“I felt as though I needed to really set it free, to get it out of me, and so Michelles_Scriptures was born,” she said. “Just goes to show you, sometimes your greatest source of pain and heartbreak can plant a seed inside of you that grows to be something breathtakingly beautiful and takes you to places inside of yourself that you never even knew existed.”