Drawn to Art

Professional Muralist Molly Rose Freeman Finds Patterns in Creativity
Molly Rose Freeman

From idea to research to execution, painting murals isn’t very different from the creative writing that Molly Rose Freeman ’10 majored in as a student at UNC Asheville.

Freeman said time she spent composing and refining creative nonfiction based upon her mother’s Cherokee heritage and her father’s Eastern European Jewish lineage helped her prepare for a career as a muralist. Her work can be seen now in Asheville, Atlanta, Miami and San Francisco, among other places. 

“I learned a certain way of delving into any kind of prompt,” Freeman, from Durham, N.C., said. “The process is similar in writing and painting and any kind of creative expression. You’re choosing your focus and doing your research and letting that idea grow and grow until it becomes something solid and ready to launch.” 

Training as a painter in high school, Freeman also studied art at UNC Asheville. But she felt herself being pulled toward writing with every poetry class and fiction workshop she took. Studying literature by day, she’d work until midnight on her drawing and painting in a studio in Asheville’s River Arts District. Increasingly, she found herself drawn to geometric forms in repetitive patterns, something she sees in the sacred architecture of grand cathedrals and Hindu temples. Patterning can have an overwhelmingly positive effect on people, she believes. 

One day after graduation, a friend asked her to help with a mural in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood, known for its fabulous street art. She went, and she was hooked. “It was a combination of being outside, being able to use my whole body as a paint brush, as opposed to just my hand,” she said. 

“The Soul’s Bright Anchor” from Atlanta’s 2012 Living Walls ConferenceWorking from intellectual patterns her work at UNC Asheville fortified, she began painting repetitive forms. The work had a meditative quality, she found. “There is a sense of devotion and healthy labor to doing the same shape over and over again. It becomes very relaxing. It has been pretty much my focus since then.”

Freeman recently completed work on a mural in Atlanta, part of the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine trail. This winter she’ll be part of a team of a half dozen artists working on murals for a connector road in Nashville, Tenn.