You are currently viewing Word of Mouth: Atlanta Conversations — Molly Rose Freeman, Muralist

One day, Atlanta-based muralist Molly Rose Freeman realized that her brain, imagination and soul had been possessed. Patterns, inspired by spiritual spaces and iconography, she decided would be the official subject matter of her work.  What is traditionally viewed as a means of embellishment is center stage in her commissions, which can be seen throughout the country.

Unlike myself, (a gimme-the-last-bite, only child,) Freeman is exceptional at sharing and letting go. Aside from physical comfort, it is the reason she first decided to scale her visions. Public art meant that her paintings could take on lives of their own.

Like all of us, it took a lot of circuitous meandering for the Durham, North Carolina native to find her way. While she has always practiced art, it was in a two-year conservatory boarding school program that she became technically trained. There she developed a solid work ethic and appreciation for deadlines, research and emotional excavation. Like the creative nonfiction writing program she would later attend at the University of North Carolina, every lesson came in handy at one point or another.

By creating art that caters to the community, Freeman’s work technically belongs to passerby, trees and the vibe on the street. Like the artist, the environmental pieces are a hit of happiness — vibrant, complex and fascinating down to the last detail.

It’s amazing that you’re only 28 and travel the world painting murals.

Mostly the US although I did go down to Mexico two years ago. {Laughs}

Were you fascinated by patterns even as a little kid?

I’ve been almost legally blind my entire life and at a young age, looked at everything really close up. The microscopic nature of my world allowed me to recognize that everything is made up of shapes and patterns. After college graduation, I visited Italy for three weeks, which was where I really fell in love with sacred spaces. Even if you have no emotional ties to religion, the divinity creates a full-body experience of awe and wonder. I became obsessed with how pattern can activate those deep, reverential, spiritual feelings.

I draw mosaics, inspired by stained glass. Spiritual buildings are also my muse as well.

My language is pattern, light, space and movement. Why patterns affect me so deeply is still a mystery. They bypass my brain and go straight into my bloodstream.

Tell me about the metamorphosis you underwent scaling your work from canvases to walls?

It was natural and easy. Working in a confined space, especially one that is so detailed started to make me feel claustrophobic.

I’m surprised you didn’t go cross-eyed! 

{Laughs} While I’ve always lived for detailed work my body needed more room to breathe. When you’re working small, you can get locked into your own little world. Mural painting has lots of factors that play into the creative process from the environment to the personalities of the people that swing by to watch you work. I prefer to make something in the world rather than alone in my studio.

The showmanship element certainly aligns with your extroverted nature. Is it unnerving to show your work in public?

No, because I have the ability to detach from my work and know that even if a piece fails it doesn’t mean I’m a failure. I try not to over think it and design each mural for what the space calls for. That way the finished product is no longer mine in a way.

What is your research process for finding those nuances?

I’ll talk to people, take photos and do a couple of laps around the neighborhood to find those first seeds, which grow my compositions. When I was commissioned to paint a mural for the W Hotel, I saw this upholstered ottoman decked out in a honeycomb pattern in the lobby. Immediately I thought, that is my departure point! It was a great reminder that you never know when lightening will strike.

How would you define an ideal project? 

I love collaborating with artists who have different skill sets than my own. It’s exhilarating to go in without an end goal and let it all unfold naturally.

What advice would you give to your fellow cohorts in the art world?

Show up on time, be gracious, and receptive to what others have to say. On the flip side, it’s so important to develop your internal compass, which will allow you to make the right decisions. It’s about finding that balance between flexibility and not forgetting about your personal goals.

What’s your personal strategy for making tough decisions?

While I always trust my initial gut reaction, I try to give myself a few days to sit with big choices. It’s a practice of going inward, weighing the options and seeing what resonates with you. Spending time alone is the best practice anyone could immediately implement.

 View Molly Rose Freeman’s official portfolio here.  

Follow the artist’s incredible Instagram account here. 



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