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Dave Olson, Published March 27 2014

What's on my desk?: Spirit Room director: less is more at office

FARGO – The Spirit Room, 111 Broadway, is described on its website as a space for creative, contemplative and healing arts.

Perhaps with that mindset in mind, the Spirit Room’s executive director decided about a year ago, that her office – and the office supplies it had amassed over the past dozen years – needed attention.

“I removed everything in the room, and I began to rebuild it,” Dawn Morgan said. “I created this room specifically because I wanted it to be serene and peaceful.”

Now, instead of screaming “Office Depot,” Morgan’s workspace whispers “Zen.”

And, for the most part, the items that remain hold meaning for Morgan.

Here are the stories behind some of them:

1. Nichole Parkhouse, an area woman who is studying the art of Japanese flower arranging, provides the Spirit Room with a new creation about once a week as a way of practicing her art, according to Morgan.

“It’s fun for us because we come in and all of a sudden there’s a new flower arrangement,” Morgan said.

2. Because the Spirit Room has “art all over the place,” Morgan said she decided to keep her office walls blank.

Instead, a calm yellow paint job blankets the walls, while doors are a slightly more exciting watermelon shade. The whole color scheme of the Spirit Room is two elements, Morgan said. One is peaceful, the other is stimulating – “peaceful and wakefulness at the same time.”

3. “This is something that I always have in my office and my house,” Morgan said, referring to a chart that shows sunrise and sunset times for Fargo.

“My mother, my brother, we all have this particular chart because my father was chief meteorologist with the U.S. Weather Service in Fargo,” Morgan said, referring to the late Vern Hendrickson.

Morgan said visitors are often taken aback by the unchanging nature, of sunrise and sunset times for a given day.

“People are always so surprised,” Morgan said.

4. A glass and wood cabinet with carved doors, imported from India, holds the glassware and dishes the Spirit Room uses for events.

“We had a very primitive one in here before. I decided that since I was upgrading my office, I should put something nicer in here,” Morgan said.

5. A figure of Ganesha, the elephant-headed god of the Hindu pantheon, is one of the few items to be found on Morgan’s office desk.

The piece is a gift from a friend, Trollwood Performing Arts co-founder John Marks, who picked it up during a trip to Asia.

Ganesha “means ‘abundance’ and ‘well-being,’ so I just placed him there,” Morgan said.

6. On a table in Morgan’s office sits a sculpture of a crow made by Richard Szeitz, a friend who was head of the art department at Minnesota State University Moorhead for many years. Crows are big at the Spirit Room, which holds an exhibit of raven-themed art every year.

On the table near the crow is an artifact depicting the Celtic symbol for infinity.

“Can’t remember where it came from,” Morgan said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555