A fallen leaf, a hole in a fence, Madonna's sunglasses and an anthill: they may not be symbols of love to the average person, but the average person doesn't see the world the way Nomi Pitch sees it.
A new exhibition, which opened Monday at the Israeli branch of Lesley University in Netanya, showcases 44 photographs of hearts found around Israel, and is part of a larger project Pitch is still in the midst of - she will take a picture every day, for a full year, of a heart she stumbles upon around Israel.
"Years back, I wanted to create hearts on the street as random works of art, but I never got around to it," said Pitch, who made aliya in 1998 from the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and now works with a wide range of people as an art therapist in Modi'in. "But I soon realized that I don't need to create the hearts; they're out there already."
Pitch's project began in March, and since then, she's posted each photograph to her blog, which can be found at www.levavot.blogspot.com.
"I started out looking for them everywhere," said Pitch. "But now, they just come at me. I've also become much more picky over the last few months."
Though the project began as a one-person effort, photographs from around the country soon started to roll into her inbox.
"Lots of people sent in hearts from all over Israel," said Pitch. "It really shows you that there's a lot of love out there."
The 44 photographs are ordered chronologically, telling the story of Pitch's journeys around Israel. The exhibition also introduces the viewer to a number of characters in Pitch's life, including her dog, Hugo, whose tongue is the subject of her favorite photograph. Hugo's face, however, remains hidden.
"There are no faces in any of the pictures," said Pitch. "When we see faces, it tends to keep us from seeing everything else the photograph has to offer."
But the philanthropic layer to the exhibition is perhaps its deepest aspect.
"Each heart has somewhere to donate, so what you have is hearts helping hearts helping hearts," said Pitch.
The hearts' attached destinations span a wide range of Israeli organizations, including Pitchon Lev, Natal - the Israeli Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War - and SOS Pets.
Although the exhibition focuses on Israeli hearts and organizations, Pitch doesn't think the project's message - love is everywhere, sometimes, you just need to look - pertains more to Israel than to any other country.
"It's a message that can be taken anywhere," said Pitch. "But [Israel] is where I live, this is what I see everyday. I'm a naturally optimistic person, and I still love this country."
The exhibition was doubly sentimental for Pitch, as she received a Master of Arts in Expressive Therapy at Lesley College, in the very building where the exhibition will be on display for the next two months. For more information, contact the Lesley University extension in Israel: (09) 865-6501
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