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New Public Arts Project Calls For 200 Artists To Create 'Parade Of Hearts' Across Kansas City

Parade of Heart has made mockups of what potential sculpture designs could look like when local artists are selected in October.
Parade of Hearts
Parade of Hearts has made mockups of what potential sculpture designs could look like when local artists are selected in October.

In a nod to Kansas City’s “historic ties to heart imagery,” the initiative will spread up to 200 decorative heart structures across the region.

A new public arts initiative is seeking artists to help brighten Kansas City with more than 100 colorful, 5-foot tall heart sculptures.

The Parade of Hearts, a coalition of more than a dozen local businesses and not-for profits, is launching the project to raise funds for sectors most impacted by the pandemic.

Tucker Trotter, one of the group’s founding partners, said the project is also aimed at uniting the region after the hardships of the pandemic.

“Art, like sports, has a way to break down barriers and pull people together and forget what divided them,'' Trotter said.

The Kansas City region has a long history with the heart imagery, beginning with pins worn by railroad workers in the 1900’s to represent their home base at the intersection of the country’s major railroad lines.

The heart icon was also featured on the jersey of the Kansas City Monarchs in 1942, and on light poles across the Country Club Plaza in the 50’s and 60’s.

After a resurgence of popularity driven by the vintage t-shirt company Charlie Hustle, the Kansas City Area Development Council adopted the “KC Heart” as the official brand of the region in 2019.

“Kansas City has long been known as the ‘heart of America,'” said Jenn Nussbeck, co-chair for Parade of Hearts. “After the difficulties of 2020 and into 2021, this is an opportunity to heal our local communities, have productive conversations about equity and inclusivity, while lending assistance to those deeply affected by the events of the last year and a half.”

The group is seeking artists to submit designs online for the 100 to 200 fiberglass structures that will be displayed at sites across the region. If selected, artists will receive a $2,000 stipend.

Parade of Hearts
Parade of Hearts
Kansas Citians will be able to search for heart sculptures to visit on the Parade of Hearts' mobile app.

Their heart sculptures will eventually be auctioned off for the project’s charitable beneficiaries.

The money will be directed towards several local organizations, including the Mid-America Regional Council, University of Kansas Health System, Visit KC Foundation and AltCap.

The project has tasked the organizations with using the funds to help those impacted the most by the pandemic.

MARC will make grants to childcare facilities and providers. The health system will support long-haul COVID-19 patients. VisitKC will help displaced hospitality workers and AltCap will give resources to minority- and women-owned businesses.

Plans call for the heart sculptures to be constructed in popular and “under-marketed” locations in March 2022. They will be searchable through the Parade of Hearts mobile app and website.

The app will include the artists' inspiration behind their designs and the historical significance of the area.

Kim Newton, a local fiber artist and member of the African American Artists Collective, called the project a “historic” opportunity for artists and families to explore the city.

“I hope it brings us together because there will be an appreciation and an education and an opportunity to take families to experience the outside again, and actually better understand what's going on in our region,” Newton said.

The project’s artists will be selected in early October. The hearts will be on display next March through May before being auctioned off in June.

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