Clark/ Division: 'Hearts A Bluhm' Sculptures on Michigan Avenue Serve as Reminders of Heart Disease to Chicagoans

Listen to DePaul alum Ben Dungar talk about the history of heart disease
in his family during a tour of  the "Hearts A Bluhm" hearts along Michigan Avenue.

Clark/Division Stop IconBy Alissa Lawlor
The Red Line Project

Posted: Monday, March 7, 2011

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, and anyone walking down Michigan Avenue in February and March was greeted with a 5-foot reminder of that fact -- thanks to the "Hearts A Bluhm" program.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital teamed with Columbia College Chicago and independent artists to raise awareness for awareness of treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease.  During February, sidewalks on Michigan Avenue, from Walton Street. to Wacker Drive., were lined with 100 5-foot-high heart sculptures, each bearing a healthy heart fact.

The event was kicked off when Mayor Daley and Governor Quinn proclaimed Feb. 1 national ‘Hearts A Blum’ day.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital joined with professors, students and alumni from Columbia College, along with independent artists to design the  hearts; each one unique to its own artist. Each heart is sponsored by a different person or organization, ranging from Chicago sports teams, popular Chicago restaurants such as Café Ba Ba Reeba to the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. 

The sponsorship money raised for the campaign will go to cardiovascular programs at Northwestern Memorial as well as toward scholarships for students at Columbia College College.

Renee Ramsey-Passmore, a professor at Columbia College in Chicago, had the opportunity to work on one of the acrylic hearts located along Michigan Avenue.

“I saw a call for entries," she said. "I offered one of the classes I teach at Columbia College Chicago -- Sign, Symbol, Image -- the opportunity to send in designs. Three students took the opportunity and submitted design work. Meanwhile, I took a go at it and designed a heart. The three students from my class who designed hearts were chosen and sponsored. My design was included in the mix. I was honored to hear that the Director and Chief Cardiac Surgeon at Northwestern Hospital, Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute, sponsored my heart.”

The hearts were not easy to make. Each one took time and dedication from the artists.   

“The design was created digitally but the application and production took significant hours," Ramsey-Passmore said. "There were some technical and craftsmanship issues. But if this heart or any other heart makes a difference in any one life or a family, then it is worth every hour, then some.”

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