Meet our alumni

Morgan Rose Free

Bachelor of Fine Arts   Fibre  

“I'm always pushing myself to reach higher levels of recognition and build my career, but my main goal is finding ways to keep doing what I love and be an engaged and supportive member of the creative communities I find myself in.”

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Photo courtesy of Morgan Rose Free

What does a day in the life of Morgan Rose Free look like?  
My life has been in a constant state of flux for the last year as I’ve done three long term artist residencies in the USA (4 months at Bunker Projects in Pittsburgh PA, 4 weeks at Vermont Studio Center, and 6 weeks at Terrain Exhibitions Artist Residency at Enos Park in Springfield IL) so I’ve been travelling a lot. I just recently moved to Columbus OH where my partner is teaching Ceramics at OSU. I’m currently working on getting a new home studio set up so I can continue the momentum these residencies have given my practice.

What is your greatest accomplishment so far? 
My greatest accomplishment is my resiliency in my practice. I’m constantly applying for things (grants, residencies, exhibitions etc.) and with some successes comes inevitable rejection. Continuing to believe in what I do and work hard to build my career is something I’m very proud of.

What’s the greatest obstacle you've encountered since graduating from AUArts (ACAD at the time) and how did you overcome it? 
For me this comes back to resiliency. Continuing to make art outside of a school environment is tremendously difficult. It’s a huge learning curve and it can be hard to find your footing. I ran into this after undergrad as well as grad school. Self-doubt creeps in, life gets in the way and sometimes it feels like it would be easier to just give up. At my lowest lows I’ve always managed to trust that I will eventually push through, but the key ingredients are hard work and finding/building a supportive community.

In your opinion, why is art, craft, design, and creativity in general, so important?
In a broader sense I think it’s human nature to have an urge to create. Creative fields will always exist and be relevant because we like to make, and we crave aesthetic experiences. More specifically, I think right now creative fields have an opportunity to fill a new gap in society. Almost everything is accessible from the comfort of our own couch. Malls and movie theaters are dying as we can access traditional capitalist entertainment at home. But people still want to be part of a community and have rewarding experiences in real life. I see a lot of creative organizations, museums and galleries shifting their programming to offer innovative events and activities that are worth leaving the house for.

Do you have a favourite memory from your time as a student? 
I had a lot of amazing experiences at AUArts. The sense of community was incredible. I always worked late in the studio on Thursday nights so I could walk around and check out all the openings. In addition to the Marion Nicoll Gallery and Illingworth Kerr Gallery, there were always a ton of small student run galleries and gallery walls, and sometimes people would just set up their own little pop-ups in their studio spaces. It was like an unofficial arts crawl and I loved that kind of openness and dialogue. 

It's been seven years since you graduated, are you still connected to any of your AUArts classmates?
I am still in contact with a ton of people I met in undergrad. Some people are still like family to me, while most of my connections are through Instagram, which I find is an important tool for my practice. It’s a way for me to see what my cohort are up to in their own professional practices. I often message people to congratulate them on shows or comment on new work to show my support, and vice versa. It’s a great way to keep connected.

Can you tell me about the work you'll be showing in the Tendere fibre alumni exhibition?
Yes! I was recently in a two person show at LVL3 gallery in Chicago, where I showed new soft sculptures and ceramics that I’ve been making at various residencies over this year. I’m sending one of these, “A Hand in It”, for the October exhibition. My soft sculptures are made from found quilting cottons and digitally printed polyester of my own photographs. The quilting cottons depict idyllic repeat patterns of nature; imaginary utopias of infinite splendor, while my own photographs are images of urban spaces, often abandoned, graffitied or full of trash. These works explore the relationships between fabric and the body, and the body and the outside world.

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Photo courtesy of Morgan Rose Free

What would you like to be recognized for?
When I was younger, I had these huge dreams of being some big art star, but as I’ve gotten older, I just feel so lucky to have the time, space and support to make and show work. Of course, I'm always pushing myself to reach higher levels of recognition and build my career, but my main goal is finding ways to keep doing what I love and be an engaged and supportive member of the creative communities I find myself in.

Morgan is part of the upcoming Alberta University of the Arts Fibre alumni exhibition, Tendere, curated by alum Mackenzie Kelly-Frère, BFA ’98. Tendure features work by seven alumni, Morgan Rose Free, BFA ’12; Lindsay Joy, BFA ’11; Karin McGinn, BFA ’15; Vaughan McMillan, BFA ’15; Natalie Lauchlan, BFA ’14; Sabrina Sachiko Niebler, BFA ’13; Julia Rose Sutherland, BFA ’13.  

Tendere runs Oct. 17 to 28, 2019 in Gallery 371, at Alberta University of the Arts.

Closing reception featuring a performance of “Pain & Release” by Julia Rose Sutherland, BFA’13, Oct. 24, 5 to 8 p.m.

The seven artists selected for Tendere examine the embodied meanings of materiality and process in contexts of personal identity, culture, ecological precarity and mutual contingency.


See Morgan Rose's Instagram