Morgan Hamilton is a visual artist currently residing in Delaware. He is an adjunct professor at The University of Delaware, where he received his MFA, and the Associate Curator at The Delaware Contemporary. He is from Florida and received his BFA from Florida State University. His work ranges from performance and video to sculpture and installation and he has exhibited abroad and at home. He creates future realms whose bedrock is in our present experience.
My path since getting my BFA at FSU has meandered and is marked with potholes of uncertainty and crests of achievement. When I graduated, I moved to the desert to find myself. I set up in Albuquerque, New Mexico to get a larger perspective on life and to spend time with family members I don’t get to see often. I had ambitions of finding an art job right out of the gate, but those quickly evaporated. Instead, I got a job at a teashop and explored every corner of the state. Job after creative job turned me down and I was getting nowhere. I applied to three grad schools and was rejected swiftly. This was the umbra of my perceived failures. I threw myself into my travels and explored every mountain and park in New Mexico, and Colorado. I was surprised to hear I was accepted to The University of Delaware’s grad program after an initial “no”. My fortunes shifted and I had a mission. My focus was not to get a creative job; it was to see more before I left the South West for good. I looked back at my traveling and realized that was as much research as it was fun, by seeing these roads that connect parks and far-flung cities, I was able to experience a country within a country. My heart is still out West, but my mind is now everywhere.
I moved to Delaware to complete my Masters of Fine Arts program and found a community of like-minded artists who want the same thing: a better understanding of art and how I fit into it. I have since graduated and currently work as an adjunct professor teaching Video, Photo, 3d Modeling, and Web Design to undergraduates. I was awarded a fellowship at The Delaware Contemporary during my second year, and have worked for their curatorial department since 2016. June of 2017 I officially became their Associate Curator. I have curated two exhibitions and have juried and reviewed several open calls throughout our calendar. I have been steadily exhibiting in places as far as San Luis Obispo, California, Chicago, Illinois, and Berlin Germany.
FSU gave me a rich and unique environment to discover myself as an artist. An art department can only give me so many things: great facilities, a safe campus, interesting courses, engaged teachers, but it’s up to me and every individual student to carve out his and her paths. When I arrived at FSU, I threw myself into every arts group and opportunity I could. I joined and revitalized Art Students League and worked closely with faculty and 621 Gallery to organize and exhibit student work throughout the year. I joined the College Leadership Council to organize events like TEDxFSU and create the SIX II, and III department catalogues. I achieved this because I met other students at FSU who wanted the same thing, an engaging arts community that is looking through and beyond the Spanish moss of Tallahassee.
FSU faculty and courses gave me a well-rounded sense of art practice and taught me to appreciate craftsmanship as well as concept. I won a Mentored Research and Creative Endeavors award and was able to use the funds to create a project that I am still developing today. The opportunities are myriad, you have only to seek them out and get involved. My hard work coupled with FSU’s spirit and creative environment let me reach my full potential and find in myself what I need to succeed beyond its campus.
My advice to all incoming undergraduate artists is to get involved with arts organizations because only when you find out what others are doing and where you can go as a collective will you build the foundation of a network. I have friends all over the world that I met at FSU, and having those contacts enriches my life experience as well as my artistic experience. Don’t consider travel an expensive luxury, consider it research, you see things on the road and learn from your experiences. That’s where art comes from.
If you have your life planned out and you think there is a job waiting for you when you graduate, you’ll end up in the same hole I did. If you let things happen, analyze them, learn from them, and move on, you’ll be ready to take on the art world and create work for yourself. It’s easier said than done, but know you’re not alone in doing what you’re doing and you need only reach out for help. We’re all there for you.