May 18, 2016 at 10:45am
Dane Lisser

Emma Morrison selected for Robert Harrison Crowder Artist-in-Residence at Blue Connection

Blue Connection, Millikin University's student-run retail art gallery, has named Emma Morrison, a junior studio art major from Forsyth, Ill., the 2016 and first-ever Robert Harrison Crowder Artist-in-Residence. Morrison will showcase her artwork May 30-July 1.

The late Mr. Crowder, a member of the Millikin class of 1933 and a native of Bethany, Ill., owned a Los Angeles design firm that specialized in Japanese-style paintings and murals and garnered a Hollywood clientele including Elizabeth Taylor, among others. Today, his name lives on through his successful company, Robert Crowder & Associates. The design firm is now owned by Mr. Yasumasa Tanano, who established the Blue Connection Artist-in-Residency in memory and appreciation of his mentor and former employer.

Emma Morrison focuses her efforts on portraits, and through her art process, she tries to explore things she finds within each person.

Emma Morrison

"I start with a gridded reference photo of my chosen subject and record important details from the image onto a larger surface," said Morrison. "From this point, I build up the facial structure with layers of acrylic paint, charcoal and graphite to create the history I find. This up close and personal examination introduces the individual in a very intimate setting, allowing my viewers to know the individuals just as well as I do; as real, authentic human beings."

Morrison was recently awarded the Marvin Klaven Art Award at Millikin University's Distinguished Faculty Lecture and Honors Convocation on April 28. The award recognizes art students who have maintained a level of excellence in his/her chosen medium.

Morrison also won a Juror's Choice Award at the 16th annual Self Employment in the Arts Conference held Feb. 26-27 in Lisle, Ill.

"Up until now, my work has been primarily focused on constructing an individual process and style," said Morrison. "This involves finding a balance between my backgrounds in both painting and drawing, and exploring how they could cohabitate within my work. Now that I feel I have achieved that, I want to work towards making paintings and drawings that not only engage the eye, but the soul."

Emma Morrison

Julienne Shields, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Millikin University says, "Emma was chosen by a process that started with the Blue Connection students reviewing applications and making a recommendation to the Center for Entrepreneurship, Art Department and Alumni and Development Office. We're excited for Emma to be using the gallery as both a studio and a display place. She's a talented artist and we're sure the community will enjoy meeting her."

Morrison noted, "I hope that through showcasing my portraits, we can open up a great conversation with the community. Decatur is a unique city and I believe that this experience would really boost local spirit. Getting the local community involved with the art community would bring lots of different people together, and I believe that is one of the best things art can do."

Opened in 2003, Blue Connection is Millikin University's student-run retail art gallery located in the Madden Arts Center in Downtown Decatur. Focused on arts and specialty businesses, the retail location is used by students in Millikin's Arts and Entrepreneurship Program to grow their businesses. Products are conceived, designed and/or crafted by the students who sell them.

Millikin's Arts and Entrepreneurship Program is a six-credit course sequence providing learning-based business opportunities for students to practice self-employment. The program utilizes curricular-based, experiential activities and student-run ventures to give students a live laboratory experience in developing, launching and growing a business. Rather than learn before doing, students are expected to learn while doing by first launching a micro-venture in the program's introductory course The Art of Entrepreneurship. Then, students explore growth through Blue Connection.

For further information on Millikin University's Blue Connection, visit,, or contact the gallery at 217.428.0112.