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October 25, 2021

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Notre Dame Middle School students make art for a nationwide effort designed to promote 'love over hate'; currently only school in the state to contribute.

Collage art for the American LOVE Project is by Maren Studt, currently an eighth grader at Notre Dame Middle School. More artwork at the link below.

Now more than ever, "what the world needs now is most definitely love!" This sentiment comes from The 29 Pieces American LOVE Project, which is based in Dallas, Tex., and was conceived earlier this year by Karen Blessen, founder and artistic director of 29 Pieces, which was established in 2005 to develop and deliver arts programs to the Dallas-area community.

The American LOVE Project was created to engage schools, organizations and artists around the country as a positive grassroots response to the divisions in our country, dramatically exemplified by the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the United States Capitol.

For Sydni Oliver, visual arts teacher in the middle school, it was the school year's perfect first project for her seventh- and eighth-grade student-artists. She said she initially found out about it from a colleague and was intrigued enough to investigate further.

"I was introduced to this after a friend pointed out The Dallas Love Project, which began in 2013 and focused on changing the perception of Dallas from the city of hate (after President Kennedy's assassination) to the city of love," said Oliver, who came to Notre Dame during the last school year. 

After the outpouring of positive reviews and success of the Dallas version, she said, and with all the hate, discrimination, uncertainty and fear brought to our nation over the past couple of years, the organization decided last year to make it a nationwide project. 

"Love was the strategy, but art is the vehicle," Oliver added.

Blessen, from 29 Pieces, said the American LOVE Project cultivates the "healing of bruised and forgotten hearts one at a time." 

"Art becomes the medicine," she said. “And we believe it takes a project of this magnitude to showcase the power of love and art to give hope on a nationwide level.”


Oliver began the project by asking her seventh and eighth graders to define love in their own words. 

"What it looked like and sounded like, and then what a visual representation of their words might look like in a collage format," she said. "At first, they were confused and felt kind of silly, but once I more fully introduced the project and shared some of the realities and harshness of the world around them, they became much more invested and heartfelt toward the subject. It was a great way to start the year. They learned vulnerability, trust and it humbled them as a whole, which, of course, is very Marist." 

Oliver also said the students were required to write a reflection in their sketchbook about the things they learned during the art-creation process, and then to evaluate themselves and address the difficulties they faced throughout and what they would do differently next time. 

"But this is kept private between student and teacher because of the sensitivity of the subject," she said. "Once the collages and reflections were collected and graded, I mounted the art in a tessellation format in the hallway outside of our room, E1, which is where they currently reside."

The middle school students' artwork also is part of 29 Pieces' online gallery. Ultimately, the goal of the organization is to get art posted from at least one school in every state in the U.S. At this time, Notre Dame Middle School is the only school in Michigan to submit art for the project. 

Click here to see the NDMS artwork as well as other submissions from around the country on the American Love Project's website.

After all the artwork has been collected by the American Love project, 29 Pieces will produce a physical installation of the art in Dallas and will work with the offices of Texas U.S. Representatives Colin Allred, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and others to arrange for a national exhibit of student art at the Capitol in Washington, DC, to be displayed in early 2022, marking the first anniversary of the events that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at