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 The Acadian Museum

Living Legends Program

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Living Legends

Elemore Morgan, Jr. *
Inducted on December 15, 2001

Elemore Morgan, Jr.  * Morgan was born August 6, 1931, in Baton Rouge. An only child, he was raised on his grandfather's farm which is now the corner of Essen Lane and Perkins Road. Today, the farm no longer exists, but, as a child, Morgan was able to roam the woods and cotton fields of the area developing an early affinity for nature and the rural life of Louisiana.

His father, Elemore Morgan, Sr., was a major influence on his decision to become an artist. Morgan Sr., worked and farmed with the great Louisiana architect Hays Town and eventually became a full-time photographer. Morgan Jr. realized how easy a career in art seemed to be when in high school, with his talent, he could get commissions of $25 for an oil painting. Said Morgan Jr., "I thought to myself, 'This seems pretty nice. I think I'll just keep doing this.'"

Like any "starving artist", Morgan tried to live solely on his art, and money was scarce. He describes being an artist as "similar to entering the priesthood, a vocation that requires sacrifice and devotion to other matters." With the encouragement of his parents, Morgan graduated from LSU with a degree in Fine Arts. In 1952, he served two years in the United States Air Force as a supply officer for a fighter squadron during the Korean War. With the aid of the GI Bill, Morgan attended the Ruskin School of Fine Arts at the University of Oxford in England. He toured and painted while in Europe and returned to Louisiana in 1957, moving to Lafayette to work with long-time friend and architect Neil Nehrbass.

Elemore Morgan, Jr. devoted over 30 years of teaching as a professor of Visual Arts at USL from 1965 until 1998. Today, Morgan is recognized as one of the south's finest landscape artists; hundreds of his paintings of the rice farming country in Vermilion Parish have been widely exhibited and hang in many private collections from Paris, New York, Chicago, Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New Orleans.

Morgan was honored by the Delgado Society, of the New Orleans Museum of Art, in 2000 with the Distinguished Artist Award. In 1990, the Acadiana Arts Council presented him with the Outstanding Achievement in the Arts Award, while in 1985, the USL Foundation bestowed upon him, the Distinguished Professor Award. In 1984 he received the Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award by the Amoco Foundation.

However, one book stands out as a literary tribute to Elmore's legacy in Cajun culture: with folklorist Dr. Barry Ancelet writing the text and Morgan providing exquisite photography, they produced a beautiful book in 1984, titled "The Makers of Cajun Music." This book, which took ten years to complete, stands out as a proud testament to Cajun culture, and Cajun musicians in Louisiana. Within a few years, this particular book had become a collectors item not only among musicians, but photographers as well. Although the book was out of print, a revised edition entilted "Cajun and Creole Music Makers" was published in 1999 by the University Press of Mississippi. It is considered as one of the most indispensable reference books about Louisiana musicians ever written. Dr. Barry Ancelet, Dean of Modern Languages at UL - Lafayette said of Morgan, "His observations of Louisiana French culture consistently penetrated to its very heart and soul. I learned to see our culture in new ways by paying attention to what he saw. He is constantly making images, whether with a brush in his paintings, with a camera in his photography or simply with words in his commentary."

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