Stuart and Stacey Morse had a hunch they might be a good team when they first met, although they weren’t sure where that vision would lead until they took an art class at Maryville University.
When Stuart enrolled in the class during a semester off from another university, he liked it so much he convinced his new girlfriend, Stacey, to join him. It was then that they discovered that Stuart—an engineering student—was actually a painter with an entrepreneurial bent, and Stacey—a business major—was actually a photographer with a community development bent.
“Everybody inherently, in their biological make up, has creativity at their core. Art school is a time that you reconnect to how you’re hardwired around creativity and remove the constraints that are built up through your life, freeing you to make those creative decisions,” said Stuart.
The Morses quickly put that theory to the test and made some creative decisions themselves: switch majors (to fine arts), transfer to Maryville, start leading an organization of artists on campus and get married. All of that helped to set the scene for their careers as artists and innovators.
Together, as The Morse Group, they have worked with clients representing Fortune 500 companies, city and state agencies, libraries, art institutes and a long list of others who seek help making their organizations more productive, creative and cohesive.
“We’re able to toggle back and forth between the business side and the pure creativity,” said Stacey. “We’ve used drawing, photography, sculpture and more in team environments to break people out of their traditional day-to-day work mode of thinking. By using the arts in these programs, nobody in the group is the expert.”
That approach, say the Morses, forces new ways of thinking, problem solving and working together — all of which translate into transformed teams and work environments back at the office.
Just one of their major accomplishments is a project they orchestrated between The Boeing Company and Trailnet. Months of planning with Boeing’s leadership team culminated in a major trail renovation and mural painting 300 feet long by 20 feet high on a flood wall along the Mississippi River. The project pulled together more than 300 employees from Boeing through a creative project that made a positive impact for their team and the community.
Stuart’s accomplishments as a painter include a highly acclaimed series of large-scale acrylic paintings depicting modern day scenes that trace the historic Louis and Clark expedition. The award winning series was produced in honor of the bi-centennial, and has been exhibited in Washington D.C., state capitols, legislatures and museums across the nation.
Much of Stacey’s work has been close to home (and Maryville). In 1996, she helped cast a vision for what would be Chesterfield Arts, one of the major supporters and resources for artists, art programs and education in West County. She has served as the executive director since 2002. Both Stacey and Stuart have worked with Chesterfield Arts to make a lasting impact in their community.
In recent years they have come full circle with art and education and have begun to see what their work has really been about all along: change for the greater good.
“We’re not very complacent people, we’re going to jump in and make it happen,” Stuart and Stacey said. “Chesterfield has incredible opportunity and location. We value the arts and we want anyone that lives here to see there really is a cultural foundation here.”
Article by Michael Dechane