By Shana Siren Kempton
Today, Kansas City is a literal land of hearts. With an infusion of 154 large fiberglass hearts measuring 5 feet by 5 feet on display across the metro, the Parade of Hearts is well underway.
This public art installation features original artwork by 123 local artists placed in prominent spaces, putting more names, communities, businesses, and awareness on the map of the heartland. The heart-shaped sculptures, on display through May, will be auctioned off to raise money for entities serving those most affected by the events of the last few years. These hearts spread across the city beat for love, beat to bridge the divisive borders of ideology and land, and beat for a strong and unified community.
KC’s History of Hearts
A love affair with the heart in Kansas city dates back over a century. Local railroad pins from the early 1900s were emblazoned with a heart, claiming its place as the “Heart of America.” Those words became the official slogan of Kansas City in 1915. In 1942, the Monarch’s wore the iconic KC heart on their uniform sleeves, and in 2011, the Charlie Hustle brand reinvigorated the KC heart logo which is now worn by Kansas Citians everywhere as a symbol of civic pride.
Now, the KC heart is bigger and more colorful than ever in neighborhoods and parks, at bus stops and sports venues, and outside restaurants and other businesses, with each heart baring a powerful message through imagery. Here are two of those hearts on parade.
City of Fountains Pouring Out Love
James McGinnis’ mission in life is to spread pure love. A traumatic varsity football injury in 2014 resulted in a subdural hematoma and a 7 percent chance that McGinnis would live. On day five in a coma, he was given divine direction to live and spread the message to “love one another.” The first sign of communication he gave was the American Sign Language gesture for “I love you,” a sign his parents had taught him to use since kindergarten.
An artist and an ambassador of love, McGinnis painted his signature sign for “I love you” on one side of the heart, and on the other, designed two stylized fountains spraying water to converge in one heart. The color green brings awareness to traumatic brain injury and the color blue, to water and life. Together, they show that everyone needs some form of water and love to survive in this place known both as the “City of Fountains” and the “Heart of the Nation.” “Everyone needs love,” says McGinnis.
McGinnis attends Johnson County Community College and is a public speaker who shares his message of love and of overcoming adversity. He keeps a stack of decals with his signature symbol and message to “love one another,” giving one out to everyone he meets. McGinnis and his parents took his heart on a mini tour before installation which included a stop for fans at a Mavericks’ game.
“City of Fountains Pouring Out Love” stands at the entrance of Volleyball Beach in Martin City. McGinnis wants people who see all the hearts to feel loved. “I want it to be a blessing to them,” says McGinnis. “You can be God’s hands here on earth if you can just love one another.”
At Center Academy for Success, a high school located at 85th & Paseo, the first stop for triage often occurs in Jay Colhour’s classroom where a supply of colorful band-aids awaits the blood from a scrape or, more often, the bloodless injuries to the heart. Colhour has spent 25 years teaching students art and is well known for his collection of anything but putty colored band-aids. Colhour says, “A lot of the kids come to me with wounds that are not apparent – they’re not visible wounds that we can see, but they still need the attention.”
Band-aids were a natural choice of media when collaborating with his design students for their heart submission. Over 2,300 graphic band-aids were painstakingly applied by Colhour and a core group of 6 students. Freshman Angelique Kamara spent her free time assisting Colhour during his prep periods. “This heart shows people that they’re not exactly alone in most situations – that there are other people like them,” says Kamara. “When they see that heart full of band-aids, they know that they’re not the only ones who need repairing.”
“Healing Hearts” has been installed on the grounds of the Kansas City Arts Institute, and stands as a symbol of collective healing.
For more information and to view a map of all hearts in the heartland, visit: https://theparadeofhearts.com
Follow James McGinnis at www.facebook.com/groups/James9Recovery
HEART LOCATIONS IN SOUTH KANSAS CITY
- “HEARTLAND AGRICULTURE”
WONDERSCOPE, 433 E Red Bridge Rd.
- “WE ARE MONARCHS”
RED BRIDGE SHOPPING CENTER, 11212 Holmes Rd.
- “TOM WATSON”
WATTS MILL PARK, 1101 W 103rd St.
- “CITY OF FOUNTAINS POURING OUT LOVE”
S. KANSAS CITY VOLLEYBALL BEACH, 13105 Holmes Rd.
- KANSAS CITY IN COLOR”
NW Corner of State Line Rd. & Tomahawk Rd.
- “GROW TOGETHER”
LEAWOOD CITY HALL, 4800 Town Center Dr.
- “SPECTRUM OF LOVE”
EYE CARE & SPECIALTY SURGERY, 7400 State Line Rd.
- MOVING FORWARD”
WELTNER PARK, W. 78th St. & State Line Rd.
- “HOMES OF THE BRAVE”
VETERANS COMMUNITY PROJECT, 8900 Troost Ave.
TROLLEY TRAIL, 75th and Wornall
- “MOSAIC BEAUTY”
MARLBOROUGH GREEN SPACE, 81st and Troost
- “BETTER TOGETHER – EMPOWERING EACH OTHER”
ALEXANDER MAJORS HISTORIC MUSEUM & BARN, 8201 State Line Rd.
- “CYCLE KANSAS CITY METRO”
PRICE CHOPPER, 6327 Brookside