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When painter Meredith Morse '85 graduated, she won a Watson Fellowship for one year of postgraduate work abroad and used it to study contemporary aboriginal art in Australia. She fell in love with the country and stayed, making Sydney her home. She has returned to campus for a three-week residency in the Williams Visual Arts Building, where she is working with students in painting classes and giving talks on Australian art.

“I'm showing students art from a very different place that has its own history and cultural mythologies,” Morse says. “This contemporary Australian work has a very different basis than the art most students are familiar with. It's important for students to be exposed to many different kinds of art.”

Morse came to Lafayette as an undergraduate intending to major in physics but “I gravitated toward art,” she says. “Ed (Kerns, Eugene Clapp Professor of Art) was a real mentor figure.” She graduated with honors in painting and kept in touch with Kerns over the years. He invited her back to work with students in the new Williams Visual Arts Building. She is impressed by the facility. “When I started, we did sculpture, drawing and painting in the basement of a terrible building that was torn down. Eventually we had the (Morris) Williams Arts Center. This new building is so much better.”

Today, Morse is a systems analyst in the equities settlement division of the Australian Stock Exchange in Sydney. The job, while limiting her time to paint and write freelance articles about art, also allows her the luxury of painting what she wishes without worrying about financially supporting herself. She paints with acrylics, oils and wax on wooden panels. “I'm not prolific, I'm a slow painter,” she says. “I may be time poor because of my job, but I'm free to do whatever I want. I don't have to sell my works to support myself. I'm at liberty to make and study and write about whatever I see fit.”

She has had three solo exhibitions and participated in several group shows at Legge Gallery in Sydney. Her work has been purchased by the Australian National Gallery. Having spent the last two years earning a master's degree in art history and theory from the University of Sydney, “I'm just coming back to making (art) work,” says Morse. “So this residency is timely.” She adds organic forms inspire her. “I find forms like trees and shrubs compelling. Art making is a mysterious process. When I begin I never know what forms will arise.”

As an undergraduate, Morse won Lafayette's Frederick Knecht Detwiller Prize to senior art majors with distinguished work in art and art history. She also earned a Diploma of Education from the Sydney College of Advanced Education. Prior to her current position, she worked for a consulting firm, developing and delivering training material for corporate clients. She has dual citizenship in both the U.S. and Australia.

Meredith Morse 1985

Visiting artist Meredith Morse '85 (center) offers advice to Kara Henry.

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles