Creative submissions to Morgan Library coloring contest offer mental health boost

Library Coloring Contest photos

Photos from the displays of student coloring contest submissions at the Morgan Library. (Photo courtesy Morgan Library)

Since the semester began in August, the student employees at Colorado State University’s Morgan Library have been answering the same question over and over again: “When will the coloring contest come back?”  

“I feel like after almost two years of COVID, we just need a little bit of coloring,” said Megan Robertson, a senior English major who works at the library’s front desk.  

Enter the Halloween coloring contest.  

Robertson and her team picked out 10 spooky designs and printed out 50 copies of each during the first run. Those quickly disappeared and a total of 1,400 printed sheets quickly disappeared. In the event, 200 students ultimately returned their final submissions in an effort to win $25 CSU Bookstore gift cards and a lifetime of glory.

Coloring Contest Winner
The winning entry in the Morgan Library coloring contest (art via Erika Mathison)

“We tell people it’s not for procrastinating,” Robertson said. “We’re here to supplement your studying.”  

The works of art were displayed in the lobby for all to see, and students and staff could vote on the best submissions.  

“It was so cool to see how everyone took a template and made it their own,” Robertson said.  

The end result was dozens of immaculate pieces of art featuring everything from political commentary about tax fraud to psychedelic ghosts to the winning entry of a glamorous zombie walking the red carpet and posing for paparazzi.  

The artist behind it is Erika Mathison, a second-year student studying chemical and biological engineering. She does art on the side, and spent almost a week honing her submission to the coloring contest and even learned how to color sequined pants.  

“I saw the contest and I thought it would be really fun to do something other than solving chemical processes,” said Mathison, who draws freehand pieces for fun and posts them on her Instagram account. 

She and Robertson said the coloring contest, as simple as it is, was a nice mental health boost during a stressful part of the year. 

And as for Mathison’s $25 gift card to the CSU Bookstore?  

“I’m probably going to use it to buy more art supplies,” she said.