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Slant 45's Visual End Product: Children's Artworks

by Jerome Weeks 3 Dec 2010 7:40 AM

Slant 45 is a project of the Super Bowl Host Committee and arts-education specialists Big Thought — it’s gotten more than 35,000 North Texas kids picking up trash and planting trees for the Big Game. But it’s more than just making everything look nice for Jerry. There are volunteering lessons involved. And, yes, children’s artwork.


Slant 45 is a community project that’s been helping prepare North Texas for the Super Bowl by encouraging volunteer efforts. KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports that we’re now seeing another component of the entire effort: The young volunteers have translated their experiences into artworks — and some of them have  gone on display at NorthPark Center.

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It’s like an exhibition of refrigerator art, the kind of children’s drawings that doting parents put up in their kitchens. But this display in NorthPark Center is the result of more than 400,000 hours of community service throughout North Texas. The Super Bowl Host Committee helped 35,000 children take on volunteer efforts this past year – from collecting food for shelters to picking up trash.

Maye McPhail is a fifth-grader at the Hockaday School. Her girl scout troop refurbished the library at Bryan’s House, the facility for children with HIV and other special needs.

McPhail: “I helped paint the wall. And then I helped with organizing the books. I also worked on re-doing the bookshelves – like giving them a new coat of paint.”

Slant 45’s goal was to have the children develop these projects on their own – and then understand what they’d done. So the volunteers were asked to create something that expressed their experiences.

“The one thing children don’t spend a lot of time doing is reflecting.”

Lisa Glasgow is chair of the Slant 45 exhibition.

Glasgow: “Really, that’s how we make meaning of our experiences, it’s how we store them effectively. So this project has allowed the children to step back and really spend time considering: Why was what they did so important?”

Maye McPhail explains her collage:

“So what I did in my piece of artwork was that I had a girl and I showed how reading unlocked a whole new world. And then I wrote, ‘The smallest things make the biggest difference.’ “

Former Dallas Cowboy Daryl Johnston (left, with Shannon Skokos of the Ted and Shannon Skokos Foundation, which co-sponsored Slant 45) chairs the entire Slant 45 initiative. He sees the artworks as visual evidence of what is more intangible – the effects these projects have had on people. He cites the beautification efforts at the Joseph McMillan Center in West Dallas:

Johnston: “The neighborhood thought that that had been shut down for years. We came in and had over 300 people out there, and then when they finished and they had improved everything, everybody started taking a sense of pride in their community. It was like a pebble hitting the pond, and then the ripples would move out.”

The ripples are still moving. Other art displays will go up in the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport’s Rental Car Center and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. Then  they’ll head to the Neiman Marcus in downtown Dallas  — and the Texas State Capitol in Austin.

“Preston & Mama go to feed the homeless cats that live in the abandoned houses, chicken!”