Inspiration

The inspirational thread for this project is to remind us all that in spite of our beautiful differences —may it be language, culture, traditions or skin color — we all have one thing in common which is our beautiful heart! Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria I witnessed beauty and violence at an early age which left deep imprints on my life’s journey. I came to learn that tensions amongst community members seemed to ease when we shared meals or played music or introduced other voices of the arts. Everyone involved realized then they had similar dreams and fears in spite of their unique cultural differences. Nelson Mandela said, “We are born innocent and learn to hate, if we learn how to hate we can learn how to love” and “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the triumph over it.” 

Being an immigrant and naturalized citizen myself who was told not too long ago to go back to the country I came from, I am moved to address the fact that in our nation we are still confronted with the ugly rearing of rising hate, suppression and divisiveness. The idea of inclusion, a founding principle of our country, creates such overwhelming fear and anger towards others. Unfortunately the fallout of this destructive and negative energy is also felt by our youth, the elder, and marginalized members in our diverse communities. This led to my community outreach to encourage more people to embrace our diversity so we can find heart to overcome fear, hate, racism and divisiveness; only together are we able to face our challenges of the present and future.

Beginning

I began working on this art project last year 2019 with the help of students, teachers and staff of The Community School (TCS) by recording their heartbeats. We collaborated on art pieces. We recorded student inspirations and reflections on what it meant to have heart. From here the project expanded into our larger Spokane community.

I did not foresee the overwhelming resonance and goodwill I received from our community who helped grow my vision. The OneHeart Call has now grown into a larger installation inviting our diverse communities to join in with their heart’s vision sharing and representing their voice, song, sound, artworks, sculpture, haptic arts, dance, film, photographs with us all as OneHeart community. We would also like to reach out to our elders and people who have disabilities to share their creative heart voices. Their voices belong and matter in our human experience as well!

Installation

The Installation is visually designed to be an active background of transparent fabric panels 10 feet tall by 26 to 30 inches wide arranged in such a way to allow interaction of participants who are presenting and for viewers in gallery and museum exhibitions to walk amongst to experience up close. The formation of the fabric panels will include access for wheelchairs. The overall idea is to create a multifaceted three dimensional heart-space where the audience/viewer is invited to move and engage.

Printed on the transparent ten foot fabric panels are TCS student artworks, the heart graphs from the heartbeat recordings and student reflections on what “having heart” means to them. Additional voices and contributions from the community are added and integrated into the installation. 

In the center of the transparent organza fabric panels you will find a human heart-form that was made out of chickenwire. The differing surfaces are uniquely designed by TCS Art students who chose an individual piece of the chickenwire heart. These individual pieces are reassembled into one heart creatively echoing our coming together while not losing our diversity and individuality. As viewers walk along a suggested path they will find this unique looking human heart. From its center you will hear the voices in differing languages expressing what heart sounds in their birth languages and what heart means to them in their individual cultures.

The flow begins with a heart that is flipped, meaning the viewer will begin the walk into the heart from the oxygen poor ventricle and atrium symbolizing living a life filled with perhaps their own biases, or their resistance or misinformation towards people who are different in their community. While viewers walk through the transparent fabric panels they will encounter pockets of interests like displays of artwork and reflections. Perhaps the viewer will find a still point along the path to stop and listen to heartbeat recordings, voices and musical instruments that are engaging with these pure heartbeat sounds to soften them. 

The hope is that the viewer will begin reflecting as they continue to walk along the path reaching the ventricle and atrium through which the oxygen rich blood flows as they exit the installation. Exiting the installation through the oxygen rich chambers of the heart symbolizes my hope that the viewer is moved in such a way that next time they have the opportunity to engage with a person in their community that is different they remain open and curious to find out more about that person’s life and experience.

Our live performances/vignettes of the OneHeart Call project were scheduled for June 2020 at Gonzagas Magnuson Theater and had to be rescheduled for June 2021 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. We will release the new performance dates in March of 2021.

During the live performance individual and group presenters will be engaging with one another in a call-and-answer vignette highlighting community through language, song, dance, music instruments and drums. Our live performance event will be documented by the Community Minded TV Station, CMTV14, Spokane.

Live Performances

With Gratitude, Christina Rothe