DALLAS — About 30,000 works of art reflecting on love will be displayed throughout Dallas this fall to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as his motorcade passed through downtown.
On Saturday, volunteers with the nonprofit art organization 29 Pieces began displaying the works as part of its Dallas LOVE Project, intended to show that Dallas — branded the “City of Hate” after the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination — is a place where love thrives.
Several incidents before the assassination — including the distribution of fliers in the form of a “Wanted” poster with mug shot-style photos of the president —resulted in anger turning toward the city itself.
“When the president came here 50 years ago, that was all over the city and how cool would it be, how different would it be, that 50 years later what we’re plastering the city with are these deep and intentional things about love,” said 29 Pieces founder Karen Blessen, who served as executive director of the project.
“I think it taps into something deep down for all of us, which is our capacity to love,” said Blessen, whose group provided project participants with a lesson in Kennedy’s legacy and a glimpse at life in 1963.
Over the next several weeks, the 18-inch-by-18-inch art pieces — created by a range of people including schoolchildren, people in the business world and residents of senior centers — will go on display along the Kennedy motorcade route and at other sites throughout the city.
On Saturday morning, Becky Crawford helped affix the colorful works of art along a hall inside the lobby at Parkland Memorial Hospital, where the president was taken after being shot. Phrases on the works included “Created in God’s image, we, too, are ... LOVE” and “Love Conquers All.”
Crawford, director of experiential education and service learning at Parish Episcopal School in Dallas, organized the participation of students at her school.
“They were very surprised that some people used to think Dallas was the ‘City of Hate,’” she said. “Overall, they got a good historical understanding of what the city experienced 50 years ago.”
Other sites being decorated with the art Saturday included the Dallas Public Library’s downtown location.
Much of the art will be displayed so that it’s facing the street, Blessen said.
She initially thought they’d struggle to get 10,000 works of art, but it’s grown to include so much more. She said the enthusiasm for the project has been encouraging.
“It’s been this amazing, delightful surprise,” she said.