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.
“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.’”
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.
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.”
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