Happy Valentine's Day! Eight rarely seen images of hearts by Kevin (including one celebrating his open-heart surgery)
February 15, 2013
by Robin Moore
In 1994, Kevin found out that the bad valve in his heart, which he'd always known about, needed replacement. He had just 30 days to prepare.
What a sense of humor he had. As an "announcement," Kevin adapted a Mayan drawing of a human sacrifice -- an image of a priest pulling a still-beating heart out of a living human at the top of a pyramid -- and wrote a message announcing his surgery on the back. I printed them, and was instructed to mail the announcements if he survived.
The surgical procedure was to remove the leaky aortic valve and replace it was a titanium one. Kevin had some complications in the hospital that made things a bit scarier than they would have been.... which was plenty scary already. His mother and I visited frequently, and his mother, who was Catholic, visited the Chapel every day.
At some point the surgeon visited and gave us an information packet about the implant. It was called a "St. Jude," after the apocryphal but popular Saint of Last Resort.
Kevin's mother burst out laughing. With the complications and his extended stay in the hospital, his mother had been praying a novena to St. Jude.
Kevin used to say, the Catholics would get you coming or going. This story was one of those in which your past chases you and stays part of your story, no matter how many times you abandon it. (He wasn't an observant Catholic at all, but had appreciated the education). He saw it was a very fitting coincidence. His mother saw it as proof that her prayers had been heard.
The Emblemata du Coeur -- eight tiny drawings in color pencil and pastel -- were created not during his recovery but during the long period after when he had time to contemplate what he'd experienced. The images pay tribute to heart symbols in many cultures of the world (including in the sky above a K-Mart... a pun on his name). The series includes a version of the Mayan painting that inspired his morbid "announcement." At some point I'll also show the "St. Jude and the Sacred Heart" works, which have never been exhibited, and perhaps even the small, personal valentines he made for me over the years.