Between Greenlee and Bernard Street sits a large bois d’arc tree. Its roots laid within the soil on the land long before Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home settled on that corner in 1939.
For Cumberland, the bois d’arc tree would soon become symbolic for the home, representing protection and shelter which Cumberland branches out to the community.
This bois d’arc tree was the inspiration behind “Roots and Branches,” a collaborative art project created to promote the idea of a community between Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home and The Art Room, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art studio.
The piece was made up of 60 individual canvases. Volunteer artists were able to select a square of the piece and create their section with oil, acrylic or other mediums up to their discretion. Leslie Kregel, art education director and program manager for The Art Room, said allowing artists to use different mediums made the piece more dynamic and interesting.
“[We] didn’t know if [the pieces] were going to line up,” Kregel said. “That’s part of the joy of the piece. It’s not going to line up perfectly, but that’s life.”
Ingrid Scobie, volunteer artist for the project and College of Visual Arts and Design alumna, started painting again during COVID-19 because she found art to be healing.
“What [art] does for me is feed my soul,” Scobie said. “It makes me feel good inside.”
“Roots and Branches” was also created to raise awareness for North Texas Giving Day, an 18-hour online giving event to support nonprofits across North Texas.
For this year’s North Texas Giving Day, Cumberland hoped to raise $100,000 after receiving a $50,000 match from an anonymous donor. On Sept. 23, Cumberland had surpassed its goal at over $192,000.
“We look at North Texas Giving Day as an opportunity to raise awareness about the work that we do here and to invite others to engage in that work with us to build relationships with those that we serve to stand up with them and for them,” Banatoski said. “Raising money is great, but it’s really about raising awareness and getting more people engaged.”
Cumberland provides residential care for kids in foster care and transitional housing and support services for vulnerable single-parent families.
“Everything we do here is about keeping kids safe and keeping families together,” said Courtney Banatoski, CEO and president of Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home.
Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home began in 1904 with Miss Victoria Jackson who opened her home for widows and orphans in Bowling Green, Ky. In 1932, the children’s home was moved to Denton before opening the Old Main building in 1939 at its current location, according to Cumberland’s website.
Every year, The Art Room does a community project to help promote North Texas Giving Day.
The Art Room’s goal for North Texas Giving Day was $10,000. After receiving a $5,500 match from several donors, The Art Room reached $10,260 during the event.
This summer, The Art Room teamed up with Cumberland to start Studio 416, a pilot project which provided therapeutic art activities for adolescents.
The Art Room will continue Studio 416 where children aged 14 to 18 can come and create art for an hour and a half every Tuesday at The Art Room.
Marlys Lamar, The Art Room president and licensed psychologist, said she hopes participants in the program can have a place to express themselves in a soothing and calming environment.
“There’s something about expressing yourself without having to mediate it with words that can help connect you to yourself in a different way,” Lamar said. “You can tap into emotions a little better.”
Featured Image: The Art Room president Marlys Lamar presents “Roots and Branches” to a patron on Sept. 23, 2021. Photo by Lola Garza