Not just another ski town, Fernie delivers a multi-dimensional cultural experience. Beyond the racks of skis, snowboards and mountain bikes lies an established community with a rich cultural history and dynamic artistic activity.
Angela Morgan was attracted not only to the friendliness of the people she met and the beauty of the valley, but could also appreciate the strong community, charming heritage library and the arts scene.
As a child in Pense, Saskatchewan, Morgan did not imagine herself as an artist. Forever working on artisanal projects such as bookbinding, sewing, woodwork and willow craft, her path to painting actually began with basketball. After being awarded a basketball scholarship, she attended Bismarck State College in North Dakota where she met a professor that encouraged her to take her art seriously and who became her mentor.
Morgan continued to play basketball while pursuing her art education at Concordia University in Montreal. “I decided to focus on my career and buckle down to art,” she says. In turns, Morgan studied art, treeplanted and traveled to Mexico and Europe, then completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree at the University of Calgary.
Though Fernie’s stunning mountain landscape has inspired many other painters, it doesn’t necessarily influence Morgan’s vision as an artist; she is not a landscape painter and is not bound to a certain place for her subject matter. Her expressionistic figures are most immediately inspired by the body and by interactions with people and between people. Figures are abstracted, features and expressions are vague. Colours can be earthy and rich, or can be the unexpected hues of favorites such as acid green and tomato red. Daisies, stripes and small blocks of colour are familiar patterns in her works. Morgan paints women with lush bodies and children find their way into her paintings more often.
Thought not inspired directly by the mountainscape surrounding her, Morgan feels her work is influenced to a greater degree in the balance offered by Fernie. The diversity of the people she meets, the experiences with her children, the long list of out-of-doors activities and the artistic life of the community create a well-rounded life – and this life ultimately enriches her art.
To live a satisfying life does not require that you remain a city dweller. Fernie is fast becoming a sophisticated community that presents many lifestyle choices and indulges many interests. The people are fascinating, opportunities are plentiful, and the spectacular land-scape engages the body and the spirit.
The vibrant art scene, says Morgan “is as intense as in the city.” The many artists of considerable talent support one another and welcome new faces. Perhaps because there are just fewer people here, it may be easier to be involved in the arts community and therefore influence the art and cultural life of the whole community.
An active participant in the Fernie and District Arts Council and the Arts Station, Morgan is also a member of the pottery guild and the Fernie Heritage Library. A working artist with lots on the go, Angela Morgan has found her place of balance and inspiration.
Her art can be viewed at her gallery on Victoria Avenue in Downtown Fernie and at a collection of galleries worldwide.