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An Artist Drew 20,000 Hearts To Represent Lives Lost in Gaza — And Now She’s Selling Her Work for Charity

Zoe Minikes, a digital drawing of hundreds of small hearts, and the cover of the "So Many Hearts" book

As Israeli military retaliation continues in the Gaza Strip, the death toll of Palestinian civilians rises.

According to Al-Jazeera the death toll in Gaza has surpassed 20,000 people during the first 10 weeks of the near-constant bombardment.  

Left with feelings of heartbreak, loss, and the desire to help, Detroit-based artist Zoe Minikes began a meditative and grief-fueled practice of drawing a heart for every life lost in Gaza since the conflict began in October.

Screenshots of a reel posted by Zoe Minikes on Instagram
Screenshots of the Reel Minikes posted on Instagram about the project. Photos courtesy of Zoe Minikes/Instagram

“I did this in order to help myself and others comprehend the massive scale and horrific pace of this genocide,” she wrote in an Instagram caption.

Minikes started drawing hearts on December 1 and reached a total of 20,000 about 20 days later.

“Over the course of the last few weeks, it has become a way for me to bear witness to each death individually,” she explained. “It is a way to say ‘I spent time recording you. I spent time thinking about you. You were loved.’”

Zoe Minikes
Photo courtesy of Zoe Minikes

Minikes also runs Flower Press, an indie publishing company that centers the work of historically marginalized women and queer creators, publishing books, zines, resources, and more.

So, she’s created a small book for the project called “So Many Hearts.” All profits of the book will go to the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund — which rounds out to $12.25 per order.

But the tragedy continues to unfold.

“The horrific truth is that the killing of Palestinians has outpaced my ability to record the number of deaths and to make this publication,” Minikes continued in her caption.

“Twice, I have stopped publication to add pages, each time adding 2,500 hearts. 2,500 new deaths. 2,500 lost lives. I have chosen to publish this work at this point, when the death toll sits at 20,000.”

A screenshot of the book "So Many Hearts" available for purchase online
"So Many Hearts" is available to preorder through Minikes's indie publishing house Flower Press. Photo courtesy of Flower Press

Though the book will pause in time, acting as an artifact of the tragedy up to this point, Minikes does not plan to halt her drawings.

“As the number continues to grow, I will continue to record each death,” she wrote. “I will continue to draw hearts. I will continue to bear witness. I invite you to do the same.”

“So Many Hearts” can be pre-ordered through Flower Press, with copies shipping in the first week of January.

Header images courtesy of Zoe Minikes and Flower Press

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