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Artist’s Statement: Home is where the Heart is

Layton, Sofie; Wray, Jo PhD; Biglino, Giovanni PhD

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doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003675
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The intimate sculptural artwork Home is where the Heart is by Sofie Layton, on the cover of this issue, developed out of a participatory process, where Layton worked in a hospital context and led creative workshops with different groups of cardiac patients, including young people with congenital heart disease. The workshop process1 included reflective exercises (e.g., self-portraiture, creative writing, embellishing magnetic resonance imaging scans of participants’ own hearts), allowing for autobiographical stories and imagery to emerge.

During one of these workshops, a young woman with a congenital heart defect shared her own narrative through a drawing which portrayed her heart as a core of dense rich yellow, orange, and red hues—a fiery, molten core—which reverberates and is attached to 4 chains. The chains, she explained, represent her family and the constant support she received growing up.

Layton’s artistic response focused on finding a sculptural form to represent the young person’s story in itself, as part of The Heart of the Matter project (www.insidetheheart.org), culminating in an exhibit showcasing artworks inspired by a range of stories from individuals and patient groups. The 3-sided house with open windows (330 mm × 250 mm) was produced in transparent resin using 3D printing technology. The locket (60 mm × 45 mm) was also realized through a 3D printing process of scaling down and halving a heart model, casting it in bronze, gold-plating it, and hinging the 2 halves, leaving them ajar.

The sculpture is illuminated from within, accentuating the gold shades and the shadows of the chambers of the heart. The fragility of the house structure, as if made out of frosted ice, contrasts the warmth of the gold locket and the golden chains that hold it, conveying the sometimes precarious journey of these patients as they grow, as they navigate adolescence and transition toward becoming adult patients with increased awareness of their heart condition, what it means for them and their future. Home is where the heart is.

This artistic representation, developed through the exploration of a patient narrative as part of a careful process of public engagement, can contribute to increasing public awareness around the journey of young people born with congenital heart disease,2 as well as stimulate medical professionals to reflect on the patient’s perspective.

Home is where the Heart is

Acknowledgments:

The artwork was created by Sofie Layton. Photograph by Stephen King.

References

1. Layton S, Wray J, Leaver LK, et al. Exploring the uniqueness of congenital heart disease: An interdisciplinary conversation. J Appl Arts Health. 2016;7:77–91
2. Coates L. Making peace with our faulty hearts. Lancet. 2018;392:465–466
Copyright © 2020 by the Association of American Medical Colleges