Symbolic Mosaic Heart Sculpture Unveiled
The "Heart of Baltimore" sculpture constructed by nearly 1,000 community members honors city's strength and unity throughout global pandemic
The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) is now home to a powerful new symbol of the love, unity and infallible hope of Baltimoreans throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The Heart of Baltimore, an 8-foot-tall heart-shaped sculpture constructed entirely of mirror, glass, and ceramic hearts, has been permanently placed at the corner of S. Greene and W. Lombard streets, in the heart of UMMC's Downtown Campus.
The striking public art piece was the brainchild of Art with a Heart (AWAH), a community art organization located in Baltimore. AWAH brought together nearly 1,000 volunteers of all ages to help with the construction of the project, including the meticulous tasks of cutting glass and mirror, making ceramic hearts, painting the ceramics and adhering it all to the sculpture. The sculpture, which took nine months to complete, was unveiled Nov. 4, during a ceremony attended by UMMC leaders, Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott, AWAH staff and supporters and joined online by hundreds of volunteers and other contributors to the project.
This gift from AWAH memorializes the organization's 20th year of offering interactive visual art classes in schools, group homes, community centers, shelters, senior centers and other facilities across Baltimore. The sculpture is also a tribute to the strength and resiliency of the city's frontline health workers. For UMMC, it serves as a fitting acknowledgement of the thousands of dedicated doctors, nurses and other clinicians, and their patients who will pass by this prominent addition to the hospital's South Entrance every day.
"UMMC is honored to be the home of such a meaningful, symbolic landmark for our city," said Bert W. O'Malley, MD, President and CEO of UMMC. "The fact that the Heart of Baltimore is also a visual statement of the incredible commitment and determination of our medical center staff on the frontlines of a global pandemic brings another layer of significance. My hope is that it offers a sense of pride for all we have endured and accomplished together over the past year and a half."
AWAH's mission is to enhance the lives of people in need through visual art. At the core of its work is a commitment to equity, access and collaboration, having designed and installed more than 300 public art pieces over its two decades.
Randi Pupkin, Founder and Executive Director said, "Everyone at Art with a Heart is extraordinarily proud of this project. It is a true testament to the grit and determination of the Art with a Heart staff, Board, volunteers and those who supported this project through unprecedented challenges. I am especially moved that the sculpture and the messages it contains will greet those visiting UMMC and will provide an inspirational, hopeful and beautiful welcome to all."
The $130,000 Heart of Baltimore project is the latest in a series of community-created AWAH installations at UMMC and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), including mosaics at the UMB Community Engagement Center and at UMMC's Pediatric Emergency Department. Later this fall, another large-scale AWAH creation will be installed inside the entrance of UMMC's new Outpatient Tower at its Midtown Campus.
"We know the power of art can inspire and create a sense of hope," said Dana Farrakhan, Senior Vice President of Strategy, Community and Business Development for UMMC. "When AWAH approached us about this project, we were immediately drawn to the opportunity to honor our healthcare heroes and our neighbors through iconic public art. It's a remarkable and timely addition to our shared landscape. We hope the unity and vision behind this sculpture inspires those who pass through our doors for generations to come. We can now say that Baltimore has the biggest heart."
For AWAH's Director of Community Service and Public Art, Ali Mirsky, this installation is particularly special because of its remarkable creation story. "The Heart of Baltimore was created during the height of the pandemic and quickly became a source of hope, respite, joy and beauty for all who participated in its creation," said Mirsky. "It is a beacon of hope and light and I am truly honored to have played a part in its creation."
For more details on the Heart of Baltimore visit: https://www.artwithaheart.net/portfolio-items/the-heart-of-baltimore/.
About the University of Maryland Medical Center
The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) is comprised of two hospital campuses in Baltimore: the 800-bed flagship institution of the 13-hospital University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) and the 200-bed UMMC Midtown Campus. Both campuses are academic medical centers for training physicians and health professionals and for pursuing research and innovation to improve health. UMMC's downtown campus is a national and regional referral center for trauma, cancer care, neurosciences, advanced cardiovascular care, and women's and children's health, and has one of the largest solid organ transplant programs in the country. All physicians on staff at the downtown campus are clinical faculty physicians of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The UMMC Midtown Campus medical staff is predominantly faculty physicians specializing in a wide spectrum of medical and surgical subspecialties, primary care for adults and children and behavioral health. UMMC Midtown has been a teaching hospital for 140 years and is located one mile away from the downtown campus. For more information, visit www.umm.edu
Art with a Heart Art with a Heart's mission is to enhance the lives of people in need through visual art. The organization, founded in 2000, provides engaging, educational and interactive visual arts classes to underserved Baltimore area children, youth and adults in schools, group homes, shelters, community centers, recreation centers, foster care agencies, senior facilities, and hospitals in more than 14,000 annual classes. Art with a Heart has continuously increased its impact and presence in the Baltimore community as its capacity has grown, adding complementary initiatives to its core programming throughout the years, including a workforce development program, a social enterprise store, a public art and community service initiative, and a leadership development program for high school students.