A eulogy and remembrance of one of UL's best-loved faculty, and Acadiana's most influential artist.

A Tribute

Elemore Morgan, Jr.
1931- 2008

Art is healing, bringing beauty and personal expression into our lives. When I was a student of fine art at UL, I was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Elemore Morgan, Jr. had cancer, as did another student in our class. The three of us were talking when Elemore got very serious and said, “Do you get the feeling we’re at a cancer support group?” He really caught us off guard and we all laughed. Actually, it was a very natural and powerful support system built into our lives. His comment was a realization of that for all of us. The other student died of cancer and I had a recurrence, but Elemore Morgan, Jr. died of complications from heart surgery. He over came his cancer. What an example of living he gave to the world!

His treatment of choice was a macrobiotic diet. It may not have been his only treatment, but it worked. It’s not easy to refuse rice and gravy, but he was disciplined. Art class was different when he was absent. He commanded our attention; never demanded it. He was inspired by our work with his wonder and keen sense of observation. He remembered and respected you, the person, as he taught. He reminded me of Orville Redenbacher with his white hair and patches on the elbows of his jacket. From the depth of his being, he was an artist no matter how he dressed.

My studies were interrupted because of complications. Having to quit school, even for health reasons, made me feel like a failure. When I told him goodbye, Elemore apologized to me for anything the university might have done to my creative aspirations. I laughed again. People who study art already have talent and knowledge. He was hoping my formal training had not affected that. He said, “You know what you like; so go do it.” I was never so comforted and shocked at the same time. He knew there was no failure. I simply had other things to do for now. My training as a visual artist has been very helpful to me as a healing artist and Elemore was a big part of that. All art is inspired - even the healing arts. We begin the work then it takes on a life of its own with inspiration from beyond.

He saw what many never see: the extraordinary aspects and beauty of ordinary life. I gave him a copy of my CD, which he accepted graciously. When I bought a catalog from him at one of his art shows and asked him to sign it. He thanked me for the CD and said one day he would get a CD player. He was humble yet brilliant, inspired but down to earth, talented and present for others. He loved the Cajuns so much he chose to live with us. He embraced and documented us with his camera, explored our earth and sky in his painting and drawings and he cultivated art like rice in the fields. He lives in the legacy of his work and in the hearts of those he touched with his kindness, love and integrity. He simply observed, loved and interpreted us. At his Cajun Wake someone asked me if one of the outbuildings was his studio. I said no, pointed to the field near his home and said, “That was his studio.” It was fertile and tilled and ready like a blank canvas. Those fields surrounding the Morgan home are like Monet’s Giverny, where he lived, loved and expressed fully!

Merci, Elemore.

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