In My Heart
First published in 2005
About the Story
In My Heart is one of my favorite books. I loved making it and I’m very happy I made it. The idea came to me from being with adopted children who were dealing with “not coming from Mommy’s belly”. It also came from the awareness that most mothers in the US (though not in most other “developed” countries where there are government programs both for long paid parental leave and for good infant care) have to leave their children at a very young age in order to go back to work.
The image of “being in my heart” comes from a beautiful 17th century painting from the Ramayana, one of the two great Hindu epics of India. In the picture, the monkey-god Hanuman, a white lemur, is holding his hands on either side of his chest, where there is painted a big heart. Inside the heart are the hero and heroine, Rama and Sita. In the story, Sita has been abducted by an evil king who keeps her hidden in the forest on a distant island. It is Hanuman who finds her and leads Rama to her rescue. So this image of holding loved ones, or a loved one, inside one’s heart, came from that picture.
The style of the book is a different story. As usual, I had written a fair version of the text, but I had no idea what sort of pictures might match it. I tried various styles and various versions of the child and Mom, but nothing worked. Then my husband noticed that there was an exhibition of illuminated manuscripts at the museum, and he figured that seeing this might help. It certainly did.
I loved the inventiveness of the medieval artists as they played with different initial capital letters – the letters that begin a paragraph or sentence – and I enjoyed seeing the different ways they used them and the delight they took in relating the letters to the text. So I looked at as many books of miniatures as I could, and I made a list of the different ways the painters had used the initial caps: as frames for tiny pictures, as props for another picture, as pure decorations, as a 3-D letter, as framed by a rectangle or as a shape around with the other letters would form, etc. I determined to make every initial cap in In My Heart a different use of the letter and of space. So the project was fun partly because of that, and partly because it was fun to mix painting, paper cutouts and Photoshop together, and partly because I was thinking all the time how much my daughter is in my own heart.
The book has not sold well at all. Who knows why? I still love it.
copyright 2016 by Molly Bang