Nonprofit created the unique public art piece with nearly 1,000 volunteers (despite a global pandemic) as its 20th-anniversary gift to Baltimore
(BALTIMORE – November 9, 2021) – Chicago has The Bean (Cloud Gate), Philadelphia has the LOVE Sculpture and San Francisco has the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps and now Charm City has The Heart of Baltimore!
Mayor Brandon Scott revealed the signature 6’x 8’ heart mosaic sculpture which is on permanent display at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) Gudelsky Entrance at the corner of Lombard and Greene Streets.
This $130,000 public art piece represents Art with a Heart (AWAH)’s 20th anniversary gift to the Baltimore community. AWAH’s mission is to enhance the lives of people in need through visual art. The organization has been a partner in the Baltimore community for more than 21 years. 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.
Weighing 1,000 pounds, The Heart of Baltimore features 18 different colors of glass, mirror and recycled glow-in-the-dark tiles. During the past 18 months, nearly 1,000 youth and adults of diverse race, age, and socio-economic backgrounds devoted their time to create close to 2,500 ceramic hearts with messages and love and encouragement.
“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,” said AWAH Founder & Executive Director Randi Alper Pupkin. “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.”
AWAH distributed 425 pounds of clay via curbside pickup and mail, offering families, students, and seniors an opportunity to safely make the ceramic hearts to embellish the sculpture. Afterwards, volunteers glazed each of these hearts and adhered them to the sculpture to create a beautiful sense of harmony and hope and showcase the love, resilience and charm at the core of our great city.
“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 AWAH director of Community Service and Public Art Ali Mirsky. “This project is particularly special because of its remarkable creation story. “It is a beacon of hope and light and I am truly honored to have played a part in its creation.”
AWAH originally envisioned The Heart of Baltimore as a symbol of hope to be enjoyed by city residents and visitors alike. With the emergence of the pandemic, the sculpture takes on an additional role paying tribute to the strength and resiliency of the city’s frontline health workers.
“UMMC is honored to be the home of such a meaningful, symbolic landmark for our city,” said UMMC President & CEO Bert W. O’Malley, MD. “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.”
“We know the power of art to inspire,” said UMMC senior vice president Strategy, Community and Business Development Dana Farrakhan. “When AWAH approached us about this project, we were immediately drawn to the opportunity to honor 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.”
The Heart of Baltimore project is the latest in a series of community-created AWAH installations at UMMC and the University of Maryland, Baltimore including mosaics at the UMB Community Engagement Center and at UMMC’s Pediatric Emergency Department. Another large-scale AWAH creation soon will be installed inside the entrance of UMMC’s new Outpatient Tower at its Midtown Campus.
About Art with a Heart
Founded in 2000, Art with a Heart 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. For more information, visit www.artwithaheart.net
About the University of Maryland Medical Center
The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) comprises 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.
Groups Who Volunteered on The Heart of Baltimore
Art with a Heart Board of Directors
Art with a Heart Staff
Art With a Heart Teachers
Baltimore Lab School
Beth Israel Congregation
Beth Tifiloh School
Downtown Partnership of Baltimore
Ellin and Tucker
Harbor City Chapter of The Links
Impressionists (Art with a Heart’s Junior Board)
Kennedy Krieger Institute
Northwest Neighbors Connecting
Pay Pal Legal Department
Roland Park Country School
Transformation Health (Trunk or Treat)
Urbana Art and Soul