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U-M Arts Initiative 'Talking Hearts' project: Open Call for student and alumni art submissions

Scythian Media

Last April, the University of Michigan Arts Initiative launched a  project led by internationally renowned cellist and U-M artist-in-residence Yo-Yo Ma. The project included a steering committee composed of six U-M students and three Michigan-based artists representing all three campuses in Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn—who have been working with Ma to develop creative ways to bring community members together and share their own experiences through a shared platform.

The result, which has begun to take shape during the summer months, is “A Travel Guide for Talking Hearts,” a project developed in collaboration with Southeast Michigan artists Nour Ballout (Detroit, MI), Tunde Olaniran (Flint, MI) and Avery Williamson (Ann Arbor, MI). The project seeks to engage multiple audiences of  U-M’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.” According to the steering committee, the foundation of the project rests in the possibilities for students from all three U-M campuses to participate in a shared art-making process in order to explore the ideas of re-conceptualizing space, community, and human connection.

A Travel Guide for Talking Hearts is accepting proposals for heart maps—variations of maps that will express what the U-M community has experienced in the past year—to be displayed on a billboard. One student or alumni design from each of the three U-M campuses will be selected. If your Heart Map design is selected, you will also receive a $500 stipend for the use of your art on the billboards. The deadline for submissions is August 23.

The idea for “Talking Hearts” was sparked during the virtual kick-off of Yo-Yo Ma’s residency, where the steering committee discussed the inundation of of maps, surveys, and data that we’ve experience during the pandemic. The idea of a “heart map” emerged as a way to connect to the emotional response that these statistics and numbers provoke—to make visual or experiential maps that represent a person’s emotional journey during this pandemic.

A still from Ann Arbor artist and project collaborator Avery Williamson's "heart map" demonstration that took place during the project kick-off event.

A still from Ann Arbor artist and project collaborator Avery Williamson’s “heart map” demonstration that took place during the project kick-off event.

U-M students and alumni are encouraged create and submit their own heart maps in response to one or more of the following prompts:

• Think of a physical space/place where you spent a lot of time over the past year. What are the first three colors, three smells, and three sounds that come to mind? How did it feel to think about that space/place again?
• What must we remember about this past year?
• What must we forget?
• What remains unhealed?
• What do you know now about yourself that you did not know one year ago?
• What does joy sound / look / feel like?
• What are you longing for?
• What have you found / discovered this past year?
• What are five words to describe how the pandemic has shifted / changed / transformed you
• If someone asked you to draw your ‘heart map’ over the past year and a half, what would you want it to show them?
• If someone showed you their ‘heart map’ over the past year and half, what would you hope to see?
• What is one thing you’d want someone to know about your experience as a student at U-M, Ann Arbor/U-M, Dearborn/U-M, Flint over the past year and a half?
• What is something you did to help you navigate life changes over the past year?
• If you had to make a sound (no words) with your voice or your body to describe the last 15 months, what would it be? What sound would you make to describe how you feel right now?
• How have your ideas of home changed over the past 12 months?
• Who has held space for you during these past 12 months?

A Heart Map doesn’t have to look a particular way. It can be abstract or a more literal visual interpretation. Our hope is that your Heart Map shows some aspect of your emotional journey during the past 15 months.

Your submission must follow these measurements based on your campus:

Flint / Dearborn
• 12.5”h x 27.2” @200dpi
• File saved in CMYK mode, and as EPS or TIFF format.
• Do not place any text closer than 6” from the edge of the visual opening on any side.

Ann Arbor
• 7.5”h x 36”w Bleed: 7.75”h x 36.25”w
• 400 dpi
• File saved in CMYK mode, and as EPS or TIFF format

*Please also consider using a color contrast tester when creating your heart map.



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