Another man’s treasure: Millikin University's Logan Mulholland finds inspiration in repurposed items

Mulholland’s mixed media art show “UPCYCLED” consisted of artwork created from recycled materials.

Crowder Residency

DECATUR, Ill. – Millikin University senior Art Education major Logan Mulholland finds inspiration in the unlikeliest places. 

Logan sees the potential to create stirring art pieces where someone might see a pile of trash. Logan’s work is focused on themes of waste and pollution at the hands of capitalism, and this past summer, as the recipient of the 2023 Crowder Summer Artist Residency, Logan created pieces for his mixed media exhibition “UPCYCLED” that included artwork made from recycled and repurposed materials.

Crowder Residency
Millikin Art Education Major Logan Mulholland was the recipient of the 2023 Crowder Summer Artist Residency.

“Being named the Crowder Summer Artist in Residency has been a privilege and a platform. As a student, getting professional and intensive experience as a working artist has given me a strong sense of direction and a sense of security in defining myself as an artist,” Logan said. “Being awarded the opportunity to mobilize my work in a way that can create a conversation, opened a door for myself as not only an artist but an environmentalist.”

The endowed residency program is the first of its kind in Millikin’s Arts Entrepreneurship program and was created to allow Millikin art students an opportunity to create in the Blue Connection – Millikin’s retail art gallery located in the Madden Arts Center in downtown Decatur – where students will have exposure to commerce and expectations for making connections with the community. 

Crowder Residency
Logan Mulholland's piece "Cuffs of Capitalism."

Logan’s piece “Cuffs of Capitalism” comprises 100 plastic bags found at Target, Walmart and Kroger. 

“Each bag is a link of the chain that attaches the handcuffs that the environment and humans are locked into as corporations neglect the impact they have on the environment. Ethical production and consumption are possible, if corporations are held accountable,” Logan said. “Outside of the United States (and in many walkable U.S. cities), plastic bags cost money in hopes of reducing how much we consume as individuals. This raises the question of why this is not the socialized norm?”

During the creation process, the Decatur community had the opportunity to donate their "trash" for it to become artwork, and Logan meticulously planned out the use of these resources. 

Crowder Residency

“Waste and pollution have a large impact in my work because ‘UPCYCLED’ is the culmination of repurposed materials & recycling donated from members of the Macon County & DuPage County community,” Logan said. “Throughout my residency, I took the time to carefully plan and execute each piece based on the materials that I received. Essentially, I found a purpose for the materials that much of the population would have thrown away, never to be seen again.”

Logan hopes his first exhibition has sparked dialogues about climate change, and he feels that “UPCYCLED” challenges the viewer as much as it challenged him to create it.  

Crowder Residency

“One goal throughout my residency was to challenge myself as an artist. I am traditionally a painter, so working outside of the traditional realm with assembled concepts and mixed media work allowed me to learn and grow as an artist,” he said. “Another goal was to create a conversation, and during the show's reception, I learned that I did achieve this goal. Complete strangers from the Decatur community came up to me explaining why they resonated with many of these pieces and enjoyed how I developed this series of work.”

About the Crowder Summer Artist Residency

The Crowder Summer Artist Residency is funded by The Robert Harrison Crowder Endowment for Arts Entrepreneurship. The late Mr. Crowder was a member of the Millikin class of 1933 and a native of Bethany, Ill. A celebrated artist, business owner, and author, he was an expert in the Byobu style of Japanese painting, and his works filled many art galleries and homes. Today, his name lives on through Robert Crowder & Associates, a successful design firm in Los Angeles.

About the Blue Connection Art Gallery

Opened in 2003, Blue Connection is Millikin University’s retail art gallery located in the Madden Arts Center in downtown Decatur at 117 N. Water St. Focused on arts and specialty businesses, the retail location is used by students in Millikin's Arts & Entrepreneurship Program to grow their businesses. Products are conceived, designed, and crafted by the students who sell them.