Merijean Morrissey was born in Chicago and completed her BFA at the University of Illinois, also spending a year in Paris at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere, followed by a term at the Art Institute of Chicago. With a Max Beckmann graduate fellowship in hand; she spent a year in New York at the Brooklyn Museum before returning to the University of Illinois in the MFA program in painting and printmaking.
Morrissey immigrated to Canada in 1971 to teach painting and printmaking at the University of Ottawa. She then moved to Brock University in the Niagara Peninsula where she taught the Honours Studio as well as advanced painting and drawing. She retired in 2014 as Professor Emerita.
Morrissey’s own practice focuses on the use of poetic devices where visual metaphors are primarily used to enhance meaning. She is interested in memory and history with its inscribed record upended in a mythic journey. Her work is in narrative form, but attempts to break free of linear story telling. Pattern, the cosmos, birds and fish, and various cultural artifacts, especially oriental carpets, are often depicted in her works. For a number of years Morrissey’s paintings and prints have focused on migration and immigration.
In exhibition at Graphic Studio Gallery in 2016 Morrissey’s prints focused on the 100 anniversary of the Easter Rising. In some of the works chandeliers of the period are used metaphorically to represent the fragile nature of the effort to form a republic and the bright light of hope for its success. Other works portray women in hats from that time and are meant to recall the critical involvement of women in the Rising and in the formation of Irish Republic. These hats have veils, which posits that they are Easter widows. A number of these works were purchased for the Irish state collection.
Morrissey has been an artist-in-residence at the Contemporary Artists’ Center in North Adams, Massachusetts, in Japan with the Nagasawa Mokuhanga on the Island of Awaji, and of course to Ireland where she continues to make prints and search for the navigator. She returns to Ireland each year for three to six month’s work at Graphic Studio Dublin where she is a member.
Morrissey is the recipient of numerous grants; including the Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council, the Humanities Research Institute, as well as those from private institutions. She has been on Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada juries, including the inaugural SSHRC Research/Creation jury, Canada Council Art Bank Purchasing jury, and Ontario Arts Council juries. Her work is represented in over 35 public collections and been exhibited in Dublin, Berlin, Tokyo, New York, Chicago, Yugoslavia, Poland, England, France, Estonia, the U.S. and Canada.