“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Aptly named after one of the most tender quotes in the well-loved story, “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, NCM’s newest Summer exhibit is a classic heart-shaped jumpy that explores the parts of ourselves that we cannot see.
Designed by San Francisco based artist Felipe Dulzaides, and placed outside in the grass of our park, “What is Essential…” invites kids to crawl through aorta-shaped tunnels and play inside this enormous red jumpy, who’s interior is designed to replicate the chambers found within the human heart.
As viewed from the outside while children jump, the heart looks like it’s beating—kids literally create the pulse of this exhibit. It’s not only fun it also allows visitors to explore and understand the inner workings of their bodies. For example, once inside the jumpy, a kid asked me, “Is this how hot it is in your real heart?” and another added, “It has to be! The normal human body temperature is 98 degrees!” In the warm red room of the heart we imagined what it would be like to be inside your own body.
“Make a fist,” we told them, while they waited in line, “This is about the size of your own heart in your chest.” They all examined their hands until one kid, pointing at the jumpy remarked, “Whoa, so whoever’s heart that is must be huge!”
The heart is the center of the human body and it’s function dictates how we live. While we cannot see our heart, it moves us – both biologically and emotionally. To quote Robert Valett, “The human heart feels things the eyes cannot see, and knows what the mind cannot understand”.
So the impact of the piece is in the title: “What is Essential is Invisible to the Eyes”. This incredibly fun exhibit encourages visitors to begin an exploration of what else we keep in our hearts—and it’s not just blood and tissue.
The heart is commonly known as the source of our feelings and arguably creative expression. When someone hurts us we may say we’ve had our heart broken, or when we say someone has a “big heart” it usually means they have room for everyone and can accept anyone who comes into their life.
When we let others into our heart, it moves. It bounces, it pumps. It’s excited and we become alive. More than blood flowing through our veins, making connections with other human beings enliven us.
In this way, Dulzaides’ innovative exhibit exposes what’s hidden inside us and helps us examine our inner-selves, making visible to us our very own hearts.
—Angella d’Avignon, Gallery Guide