Morgan Clifford has been working in textiles since the late 60’s; her pieces have been exhibited in Japan, Scotland, South America and across the US.
She is a recipient of an NEA Fellowship, MN State Arts Board Fellowship, MN State Arts Board Initiative Grants, Minnesota Career Opportunity Grant and an NEA/Arts Midwest Fellowship. She was recently a finalist for the Bush Foundation Fellowship.
She has an MFA in Fibers from Cranbrook Academy of Art, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a BS from Beloit College in Beloit, WI and she studied textiles for a year at Statens Laererskole I Forming in Notodden, Norway.
Her formal teaching positions include Macalester College (1987-1990) and Kansas City Art Institute (1989). She was head of the Fibers Program at the U of WI-River Falls from 1990 until June 2015, when she retired as emeritus professor. She was a visiting professor at the University of Kansas at Lawrence; Savannah College of Art, Savannah, Georgia; and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee, Scotland.
She has taught workshops and informal classes in Scotland, Norway, Finland, Canada and throughout the U.S. She has conducted textile research in Norway, Finland, Peru, Japan and Indonesia. She lives in Stillwater and is married to architect Timothy Old.
Put me in most modern fabric stores and I’m completely unmoved, but dangle some ancient rag made of handspun, handwoven materials in front of me and I’m right there. I was always taught, “one’s art should not be about one’s materials”, but that’s not the way I work. If I didn’t feel a strong physical and tactile connection to the linen, silk, paper, handspun nettles and hemp that I work with, the final piece wouldn’t succeed.
I mentally flatten pretty much everything I see, wondering how it would look steamrolled and turned into 2-D shapes and patterns. The compositional devices of checks, checkerboards, and lattices are natural extensions of the woven structure itself, so I use them in my work. I use gauze-weave structures like nets in which small, geometric, shapes and patterns float across the surface.
Color is critical. I work the hardest at animating the different layers of dyed threads that create the warp, weft, and inlays. A textile that glows because of beautiful colors and patinas doesn't need a complex composition. Subtle color combinations, simple compositions and beautiful materials are enough.