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University of Missouri

Poster Celebrates Black History Month

Honors black culture, history and achievement at Mizzou.

Molly Jeanne Lovewell majored in journalism, business and hospitality management before she settled on art. It feels like the right fit for Lovewell, a senior from Davenport, Iowa, who won the grand prize in the first-ever University of Missouri Black History Month Poster Competition.

Jesse Hall sketch by Molly Jeanne Lovewell

To create the winning poster design, senior Molly Jeanne Lovewell started with a rough architectural drawing of Jesse Hall.

Every February, MU celebrates Black History Month. In past years, Mizzou Athletics spearheaded production of a poster. This year, Executive Associate Athletics Director Sarah Reesman, BA ’86, wanted to try something new. In collaboration with the Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative, the poster competition was an effort to expand participation in Black History Month celebrations to the entire campus and the Columbia community. Chosen by a panel of Mizzou faculty, staff and students and Columbia community leaders, the winning poster, which could be made using any medium, would honor black culture, history and achievement at Mizzou.

I’m big into having students, through their college experience, create things they can put on their resume,” says Associate Professor of Journalism Cyndi Frisby, who teaches in the strategic communication sequence in the J-School and co-facilitated the contest. “My passion played out in that [Lovewell] could put this award-winning work on her resume, it came with prize money and she’s getting a lot of recognition. Those are things that are important to me as a teacher.”

Jesse Hall painting by Molly Jeanne Lovewell

Lovewell used a type of opaque watercolor called gouache to paint Jesse Hall.

They are important to Mark Langeneckert, too. An assistant teaching professor in the art department, he gave the poster competition to his class as a homework assignment.

Lovewell didn’t have any expectations — it was only her third art class — but she’s a dedicated student and a quick learner. She started with an architectural drawing of Jesse Hall that she then painted using opaque watercolors. Next, she took a photograph of the painting, scanned it onto her computer and created a collage in InDesign using portraits of 21 prominent black figures. One-third of the people featured are nationally known, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Louis Armstrong; one-third are native Missourians, such as Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou; and one-third are Mizzou graduates, such as Gus Ridgel, MA ’51, and Mary McLeod Bethune Still, BA ’60.

Mizzou Black History Month poster design by Molly Jeanne Lovewell

In the final design, Lovewell add portraits of famous black figures, including people born in Missouri and people who attended Mizzou.

The message Lovewell wanted to convey is that each person pictured, every color painted, is of equal importance in creating the impact of the poster.

Out of anybody who comes to Mizzou, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, you are Mizzou,” Lovewell says. “You are a student here. You are a Tiger.”

Lovewell’s winning poster design was published and distributed in January across the university and Columbia community and to more than 2,000 high schools and nonprofit youth organizations across the state.

Mizzou Black History Month poster design by Molly Jeanne Lovewell

Lovewell’s designed was chosen by a panel of judges. The poster was printed and distributed to more than 2,000 high schools and nonprofit youth organizations across the state to help celebrate Black History Month.