A Travel Guide for Talking Hearts seeks to engage multiple audiences – students and members of University of Michigan’s communities – in a creative process that strengthens our human connection and develops a shared empathy around individual journeys and experiences during the global coronavirus pandemic, the current transition period, and the evolution to a new normal. The travel guide is a response to how “fixed” many of us have been, geographically, over the past year when at the same time maps, surveys and data about risk and hospitalizations have been part of the public discourse. These maps don’t reflect the emotional lives of people though and A Travel Guide for Talking Hearts offers a chance for people to explore and be in conversation with each other after a year of many forms of isolation. Participants take a kind of “journey,” and end up in a different place than where they began. This collaborative project attempts to make sense of the pandemic – including the upheaval, the grief and the uncertainty of it all.

Talking Hearts Guides

Drawing Guide

This free, downloadable Talking Hearts Drawing Guide covers nine different themes, including Loss, Mapping Growth, Mapping Relationships, and Longings. The Drawing Guide offers a series of prompts and drawing exercises to help you to process through your emotional journey throughout the pandemic using creative, artistic expression. Developed and designed by Avery Williamson and Kristen Drozdowski of Worthwhile Paper Co.

Download the Talking Hearts Drawing Guide



Conversation Guide

The free, downloadable Talking Hearts Conversation Guide is a series of questions to help people get in touch with their emotional journeys over the past year of the pandemic. The artists who co-created this guide intended that it encourage conversations that build and strengthen relationships and normalize connecting with, and caring for the people around us. It can be used as a tool for a person to answer questions alone, for pairs, or even for group conversations. Responses can be whatever form feels best to participants – written text, audio, video, or face-to-face. and the artists hope that these conversations can serve as a capsule and archive of the pandemic. The Talking Hearts Interview Guide was crafted in collaboration with Wolverine Wellness.

Download the Talking Hearts Interview Guide


Artists' Responses

A series of billboards to be displayed in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Flint from local artists representing their own 'heart maps.'

Nour Ballout curated the billboard component of the project with a call for submissions from students from all three U-M campuses and Michigan-based artists from each city; Amanda Edwards in Flint, Cyrah Dardas in Dearborn, and Avery Williamson, Steering Committee member, in Ann Arbor.


A series of live, in-person performances with regional artists Dani Darling, Monica Blaire and Natasha Thomas on all three campuses beginning in late September and going through October.

Dani Darling, 7:30 pm, September 24, Ann Arbor. Learn more here.

Natasha Thomas, 7:00 - 9:00 pm, October 8, Flint. Learn more here.

Monica (mBthelight) Blaire, 12:30 pm, October 21, Dearborn. Learn more here.

Committee Members

Artist Steering Committee Members

  • Nour Ballout

    Detroit-based interdisciplinary visual artist and curator

  • Tunde Olaniran

    Flint-based musician and performer

  • Avery Williamson

    Ann Arbor-based interdisciplinary artist whose work includes weaving, photography, jewelry, painting and drawing

Student Steering Committee Members

  • Audrey Banks

    Art and Design, UM-Flint

  • Alyssa Melani

    School of Music, Theatre & Dance, Ann Arbor

  • Ashwin Prakash

    College of Engineering, Ann Arbor

  • Constance Burroughs

    College of Arts, Sciences, & Letters, Dearborn

Read the student project blog here.