CHICAGO — Murals honoring a DePaul University basketball
legend, the former Blue Demon football program, the university’s first building
in Chicago’s Loop, and the creation of the school’s Black Student Union are the
newest works in a multi-year public art project to memorialize key figures and
moments in DePaul’s history.
Residing under the Chicago Transit Authority’s Fullerton ‘L’
station on the university’s Lincoln Park Campus, “The Story of ‘The Little
School Under the ‘L’’ — Under the ‘L’,” began in 2016 and is the vision of
muralist Brother Mark Elder, C.M., a faculty member in DePaul’s Art, Media, and Design Department.
The new murals honor:
- George Mikan, a 1946 DePaul alumnus and Blue
Demon basketball star, who was a four-time All-Star, three-time scoring
champion and five-time champion in the National Basketball Association,
eventually earning induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
- DePaul’s collegiate football team, which competed
from 1898 to 1938, playing most of its home games on a field located on West
Belden Avenue near the university’s Lincoln Park Campus as well as Soldier
Field and Wrigley Field for select contests.
- A building at 64 E. Lake St. in Chicago, which
DePaul built in 1928 to serve as the first home of the university’s new Loop
Campus before moving to East Jackson Boulevard in 1955. The Loop Campus helped
DePaul serve Chicagoans who wanted to attend college but also maintain a
full-time job in the city.
- The 50th anniversary of the university’s Black
Student Union, which was the first organization of color at DePaul and created during
the civil rights movement to help raise awareness of black culture and black
issues on campus.
A dedication for the four new murals will be held at 11 a.m.
Oct. 13 under the Fullerton ‘L’ tracks at Sheffield and Belden avenues.
Attendance is free and open to the public.
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 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 eight feet in circumference.
“It’s important to have a passageway where our history is
visible,” said Elder. “One of the goals of this project is to display in a
tangible way the mission of the university and highlight the student
“These new murals are an example of that. Mikan is a
legendary, Paul Bunyan-type figure who was huge in the history of the early
NBA. His early development through Coach Ray Meyer is legendary in its own way.
With the football mural, it’s good for current students to know that we had the
sport at one time and help explain why we don’t anymore. The 64 E. Lake St.
building is an example of how we originally looked to meet the needs of
students, and the founding of the Black Student Union is an important moment in
the history of the university that helps explain how groups like it might shape
the university going forward.”
These new murals join eight others installed in 2016 and
2017 that honor basketball’s Ray Meyer; law alumnus Benjamin Hooks; Olympian
Mabel “Dolly” Landry Staton; former university president Rev. Francis Xavier
McCabe, C.M.; and the first female and first African-American graduates of the
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. Elder’s plan includes adding four murals a
year for three more years to finish the project. 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
Additional information about the previous murals is online
The project’s official website is online at http://bit.ly/mural_website.
Brother Mark Elder, C.M.