Art making as a Spiritual Practice: Interview with Jenny Morgan

RMCAD alumna and Radiance Award honoree Jenny Morgan graduated as class valedictorian in 2003. Soon after, she started working with Plus Gallery, which helped her establish herself as a painter. In 2006 she moved to New York City to earn her MFA at The School of Visual Arts. She celebrated her first major solo exhibition with Driscoll Babcock Gallery in 2013, and had her first museum solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver in 2017.

These are just a few milestones in Morgan’s impressive career. Based on what she’s accomplished to date, it’s safe to say that there will be many more to come. In an interview with RMCAD, Morgan talked about her path as an artist, her time at RMCAD, and what’s next for her.

When did you first become interested in art?

Every child loves to draw, I just never stopped. I was raised in a family that nourished my creative spirit and allowed me to perceive the value in being an artist.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue this interest as a career?

I knew I wanted to be a professional artist as young as elementary school. In high school, I started to narrow my field of interest and began to understand that I was painter.

Why did you decide to study Illustration at RMCAD?

I felt that with Illustration, I could enhance my skill set and learn the fundamentals. I saw opportunity in entering a commercial landscape with editorial work. Along the way, I discovered that I craved aspects of the Fine Arts and was able to add courses to my curriculum that rounded off my development as an artist.

How did your education at RMCAD influence your art?

I was profoundly inspired by my professors who had mastered working with the figure. Through their guidance, I learned how to transform complicated internal content into a relatable visual language.

What inspires your art?

My art is inspired by relationships. I primarily work with portraiture, which is the study and depiction of an individual.  My subjects are people who I have a personal relationship with and feel inspired by. Often, my portraits are of fellow artists.

Tell me about your current work.

Right now, I’m thinking a lot about the female nude and the renewed interest in her as a political statement. Part of my response to the current interest in identity politics is the need to balance out my practice with masculine energy. I’m also working on portraits that include individuals who have a more fluid gender roles.

What do you enjoy most about being an artist?

I view art making as a spiritual practice. Painting has always been my primary tool for processing life events and working through difficult content.

What advice would you give to young artists?

My advice is to hold your artistic self as something sacred. The professional landscape will challenge your relationship to your work, and longevity requires a deep connection to your practice. Embrace and learn from failure. There will be setbacks and missed opportunities along the way that will feel disabling—the key is to learn from your experiences and find the path best suited for you.

Stay tuned for the next post featuring our other Radiance Award Honoree, Paul Trani!

Note: Some of the questions in this interview have been edited for clarity and brevity.