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New murals under Fullerton ‘L’ station explore DePaul milestones

CTA mural
One of four new murals under the Fullerton 'L' stop honors DePaul's relationship with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), (DePaul University/Randall Spriggs)
The newest murals in a multi-year public art project to memorialize key figures and moments in DePaul's history are on display under the Chicago Transit Authority’s Fullerton 'L' station on the Lincoln Park Campus. A dedication will be held on Friday, Oct. 4, in the DePaul Art Museum.

The four new works recognize the CTA; former DePaul presidents the Rev. John R. Cortelyou, C.M., and the Rev. John T. Richardson, C.M.; the university’s victory song; and the 1979 men’s basketball team that advanced to the Final Four.

Started in 2016, the project now has 16 murals under the ‘L’ tracks. It is the vision of muralist Brother Mark Elder, C.M., a faculty member in Art, Media, and Design, who named the project “The Story of ‘The Little School Under the ‘L’” — Under the ‘L’.”

The new murals honor:

  1. ​DePaul’s relationship with the CTA, which connects the Lincoln Park and Loop campuses via the Red and Brown ‘L’ lines. The Fullerton ‘L’ stop was built in 1900, just two years after DePaul’s founding in 1898.

  2. Former presidents the Rev. John R. Cortelyou, C.M.; and the Rev. John T. Richardson, C.M.; DePaul’s eighth and ninth presidents, respectively. The tenures of both presidents were times of monumental growth at the university. Fr. Cortelyou oversaw construction of a new library, a new academic building, the first permanent residence hall, and the acquisition of 11.3 acres and eight buildings on the Lincoln Park Campus. When Fr. Richardson was president, he oversaw the transformation of the former St. Vincent School into a permanent space for The Theatre School, the opening of a new residence hall and library, and the creation of the quad on the Lincoln Park Campus.

  3. The 1979 men’s basketball team, which went 26-6 overall and advanced to the program’s second Final Four where they lost by two points to Larry Bird’s Indiana State squad before beating the University of Pennsylvania in the consolation game. Included in the NCAA Tournament run was a 95-91 victory over powerhouse UCLA — winners of five championships in the 1970s — in the Elite Eight. Led by legendary DePaul coach Ray Meyer, the 1979 squad featured future NBA players Mark Aguirre and Terry Cummings.

  4. The DePaul “Victory Song,” which was written in 1930 by Arthur C. Becker, the founding dean of the School of Music, and faculty member J. Leo Sullivan. The “Victory Song” served as the university’s first official fight song throughout the 1930s. After trying out a few other options during the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s, Becker and Sullivan’s creation was revived and has served as the official fight song since 1965. Becker is also featured on the mural to honor is service as dean of the School of Music from its founding in 1918 to 1966.
“These new murals honor institutions, teams and individuals that helped DePaul flourish in the 20th century,” Br. Elder says.

A dedication for the four new murals​ will be held at 3 p.m. on Oct. 4, on the second floor of DePaul Art Museum. Following the dedication, Br. Elder will facilitate a university public forum to discuss themes for the new murals that will cover the last 30 years of DePaul history.

Br. Elder’s process from ideation to installation can take as long as 10 months. He finalizes the mural concepts in late fall, lays out and draws the murals during the winter, and works with a mural class of DePaul art students in the spring to paint the murals and prepare them to be moved under the ‘L’ tracks. A small group of students then joins Br. Elder each summer for installation, where their hands-on work includes some final painting, preparing the canvases, and applying the murals carefully onto the pillars for drying. The murals, which are wrapped around the support pillars for the ‘L’ tracks, measure on average about 10 feet tall and 8 feet in circumference.

“It’s important to have a passageway where our history is visible,” says Br. Elder. “One of the goals of this project is to display in a tangible way the mission of the university and highlight the student experience.”

These new murals join 12 others installed between 2016-18. In total, 25 murals will be installed, 24 to highlight DePaul’s history and a 25th, which is already installed, that gives an artistic overview of the project. Br. Elder’s plan includes adding four murals a year for two more years to finish the project in 2021. Each row of murals represents a different 20-year period in DePaul’s history, starting from its founding in 1898 on the pillars closest to Belden Avenue and moving north toward Fullerton Avenue.

View more information on the project’s website.