Intersection of sports and art

A St. Louis native, Sarah Weinman writes a weekly visual arts blog for the Light (


I was curious about the exhibition “Kevin Carroll: The Art of Sport + Play” in the Millstone Gallery at the Center for Creative Arts (COCA) because of its emphasis on sports. What do sports have to do with art? I wondered.

A lot, as it turns out. The show explores the intersection of sports and artistic creativity. It incorporates a healthy dose of international flavor as well, and it’s probably no coincidence that the show runs during the London Olympics and Paralympics. The myriad objects include paintings of balls from other countries; photographs of children playing; painted athletic shoes; Nike ads; posters with the word “Dream” in 10 different languages; books and magazines about sports; and even a set of gym lockers.

A major component of the show is Carroll’s collection of handmade balls created by children in countries such as Zambia, Brazil, and India. Especially poignant are a crushed aluminum-can “ball”, plastic bags held together with string, and balls made of plant fibers.

Kids in different American cities participated in this show by assembling and decorating the cardboard boxes displayed at the front of the gallery. The boxes show their creators’ interests in activities like art and sports, and describe goals such as graduating from college. Posters on the wall behind the boxes ask the question “What’s your red rubber ball?!” For Carroll, the red rubber ball represents lifelong dreams.

Carroll’s question repeats on a poster which pictures a number of different balls used by kids around the world. In this context, the question has a different meaning. The poster depicts some of the actual balls in the exhibition.

The objects in the show focus on teamwork and the international importance of sports. Sports also provide a way for economically disadvantaged children in the United States and other countries to rise above challenges and make better lives for themselves and their families.

COCA has two sets of hours for summer and fall, and the Millstone Gallery is open during regular business hours. Summer hours are Monday – Thursday, 7:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; and Sunday, closed. Fall hours are Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

“Kevin Carroll: The Art of Sport + Play” continues through September 16. COCA is located at 524 Trinity Avenue in University City. For more information, call 314-725-6555 or visit