It's a Parade (of Hearts)!

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Parade of Hearts is a celebration of art in the heartland featuring 5 foot tall heart sculptures painted by area artists. Over 700 designs were submitted in the fall of 2021, and I was one of 123 artists chosen to paint a total of 154 hearts. (Most of us got to paint a single heart; a few got to do two.)

Somehow I never posted updates about this huge project here on my blog though! So here we go, from the beginning.....

"Pass it On" was selected from my two proposals, and I went to pick up my blank white heart form in November. Artists earned a $2000 stipend per heart, so this was the largest project (both size- and money-wise) I'd ever worked on. 

My husband helped pick up the heart form

My husband Daniel and I picked up the blank heart and hauled it back to our garage, where it sat and waited for almost 2 months. In mid January, we loaded it up onto the borrowed truck again and hauled it to Kearney, MO where my husband teaches 8th & 9th grade English.

My design relied on his students to cover the heart in over 300 neon acrylic paint handprints. My goal was twofold: to remind these teenagers that art can be fun and tactile, like it was when they were children; and to get them to venture out of their suburban community & into the city to visit.

So after the school janitors had to literally take apart a door so we could fit this giant sculpture into the school, each hour of his classes came by, we painted one hand with the color of their choice, and let them literally make their mark on this group art project.

Heart after 2 hrs of student handprints

Then we hauled the heart back home again, where I put the finishing touches on. When the weather warmed up a bit a week later, I painted the K, C, and base a dark blue. We returned the heart at the beginning of February, where it was given two final coats of clear paint to protect it from the elements.

Last week, on March 4, we attended the kick off event for the Parade of Hearts. It was the first time all the hearts and most of the artists were in the same place. It was amazing to be part of such a talented group and to see how much variety there was in the heart designs! Truly awe inspiring.

Jen with heart at kickoff event

It was so fun to walk around and see the wildly varying hearts. I also got to meet my sponsors and find out where my heart will be placed: in PNC Plaza at the Power & Light District! It's a great location that should get tons of traffic. I'm so excited it's there (and that I didn't lie to the kids about having to get down into the city to visit it)!

So if you're in Kansas City between mid March & the beginning of June, check out as many of the 154 hearts as you can! The Parade of Hearts website will have tons of info, maps, an app, etc to make it easy to find ones to visit, both near and far.

And be sure to tag me in your selfies with the "Pass It On" Heart!  ( @late_blooming_art on Instagram, and @latebloomingwatercolors on Facebook.) I can't wait to see them!

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