Black History Month Art and An Alumni’s Story

Black History Month - CN ProjectsRecently, we posted a photo on the Maryville Facebook page of the artwork that had been created at our Crisis Nursery in honor of Black History Month.

We received this wonderful anecdote from Bill Coyne, a Maryville Alumni, in response to that post. Bill shared a story with us about his life at Maryville in the late 1960s. We think it reflects the collaborative spirit that still exists on our Des Plaines and Bartlett Campuses today.

Bill Coyne’s Response to our Black History Month Post:

I especially like the collage. As a high school junior at Maryville Academy, enrolled at Notre Dame H.S. in Niles and living in the high school building behind the gymnasium around 1968, I experimented with many art techniques as a hobby. One of our many black schoolmates approached me for help with a project for his art class. He saw me playing with silhouettes of various objects and wanted one of his head for his assignment.

I set up the lamp, taped a construction board on a wall, set him in place and etched it out. He had very interesting features that stood out well on the shadow. Then he saw my little collages and wanted to paste pictures on his work. “I want lots of black people!” All I had were a few National Geographic magazines, which really wouldn’t suffice. Not enough pictures and nothing that reflected the current black consciousness and the struggle for its achievements.

We went through the building asking for unwanted magazines and explained why. We soon had a few dozen periodicals, and a few others helping us cut out pictures. With the new wealth of material my friend said, “We got enough to show the whole history of black people!” Light bulbs clicked on and immediately everyone in my room was contributing. I sat back and occasionally offered a suggestion about gluing and where a picture might be positioned. There was lots of excited discussion, cutting, and gluing for an hour. And then it was done.

We all just stood around for a few minutes very much in awe of the accomplishment. We didn’t really have the vocabulary to express the feeling of pride and admiration we felt. I just stood, mouth agape among the “Cool, man. That is really cool!” and “Wow! I want one in my room!” For someone who thought he had no talent, he scored an Everest on this one. He got an A for the project and for the class. People couldn’t enough of it. It appeared in the school paper and in some of the surrounding dailys. At the high school dorm we watched as Black Power fist collages, African continent collages and others went up in a lot of rooms.

Black History Month and student art projects are just a few of the topics that generate fond memories for our alumni. If you have a story about Maryville that you would like to share with us, please send an email to Thank you for your support and your continued interest!


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