I try to teach my sons as much as I can. And I know that my mother tried to do the same when I was growing up. But there is one lesson that everyone needs to learn themselves, and that is, to protect your heart.
By now, there are very little people that haven’t seen that message spray painted on a city sidewalk. Whether you’ve seen it online or walked across a Protect Yo Heart message yourself, those words have become an artistic movement. But who is the artist behind this? His name is Uncuttart and he has an incredible message that truly resonated with me. I spent an afternoon with him talking about his work, his thoughts, creativity, and what else, Michael Jackson 🙂
UncuttArt has made the concrete jungle his canvas. From New York to Miami, he has spread his talent throughout the streets of many cities. He has created murals, collages, paintings, and street art all with the same underlying tone, love. His creations feature portraits of other amazing artists, such as Michael Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Run DMC, and Steve Jobs. When asked how he chooses the celebrity portraits he paints he simply says, “Whoever speaks to me.”
His studio is filled with portraits of these artists. And the art pieces that are not portraits, are messages. This was one of my favorites:
The first time I saw a Protect Your Heart piece was in Jersey City. Call it a sign, coincidence, guardian angels or the universe, but the message was clear, and I was intrigued. So I took a picture and posted it onto my Instagram account, of course.
In the summer of 2015, Uncuttart started painting his message and in a very short period of time, everyone in social media started sharing it. From Madonna and Miranda Lambert, to cute dogs and girls flaunting their new shoes, pictures of “Protect Yo Heart” have been socially shared thousands of times. UNcuttart discusses his Instagram fame by saying, “Cause they share it with the love in their heart, it’s their work at that point, when they share it. I can’t say I don’t care, but it’s just a piece, it’s minute in the big picture. But it motivates me. I’m just using that tool to reach the people that need it.”
But it’s not just a social media movement, and it’s not just art. On every piece, you see PYH 423. The numbers stand for the verse in the Bible Proverbs 4: 23 which says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
When asked what his message with the Protect Your Heart art works are he responds, “It’s really a collective thing. my message is not from me, it’s from us. It’s us crying out to ourselves.”
Now if I would have heard that a couple of years ago, I definitely wouldn’t have understood. But what made this interview so powerful for me, is that this artist, went through a very similar experience as me. We both went through the process of finding ourselves after a long period of being “lost.” The mere fact that his message is on the ground you walk on and makes you stop and take a moment to read it, is a metaphor for his belief. That we should not merely live life in a narrow path, mowing down other pedestrians, getting to a destination, going robotically from one to-do to another. His message is to stop and take a minute to take it all in. Love yourself and everything around you enough to do that.
“It was a long growth process that I went through. It just grew and it was what I was going through. My growth, my process. We all go through that process, we have to go through that process, and for me it’s called going home. Being lost is literally [when] you can’t find yourself. Everybody is gonna go through that. This quote is more like a calling, for everybody that is heading home. Once you find your way home, you’re like Oh WOW. I’m so happy! And that connection to home, is in your heart.”
Uncuttart paints in a very unique way. His portraits are very precise and layered with stories. While staring at a piece, one can find new things to admire throughout. “Thats where my art comes from [letting go]. Let go of what you thought was real. Because it really ain’t. It’s like, I create art where you see one thing one minute and then you see one thing another minute. You’ll swear it’s one thing one minute and then you swear it’s another thing another minute, and life is the same way. Without contradiction, there is no life, cause life changes every minute. That’s life, it’s a constant change. One minute you’re gonna want one thing, the next minute you’re gonna want another, and that’s, perfectly okay. It’s life, you’re suppose to want to change, to do things, to grow with time. cause being stuck thats why people feel fucked up about things.” The artist keeps you guessing, not only with his paintings, but also his persona. He covers his face with scarves because he doesn’t want to detract attention from his work and wants the art to stand alone, to be the primary focus. He says, “My art plays a big part in allowing people to open up their mind.”
(He said, Cmon, put yours on! With MJ in the background, I couldn’t resist…)
I was pretty fascinated by our entire conversation because in one hour he said aloud what I had learned in one year of growth and change. Him and I agree, that a better life starts with gratitude. And that you must make the choice to be happy, everyday, by embracing change and loving yourself. The artist explains, “I go through it. I’m good at staying in my state of gratitude. I’m getting way better at it, but it’s a practice thing. Cause we’ve been trained to always look at the things in front of us and feel for those things and think ‘Omygod, things are not right.’ Then literally, physically, reacting to the physical world instead of your spiritual self that we’re not in tune with. You want people to be in tune with that. Your spiritual self is always happy, always thankful, always great. That other self is always problematic. It’s cool, it’s great, because we’re living this beautiful life and you gotta go through that. But to let it affect you in a way where you are not able to live your life is where we have to get that control and that power back.”
Our discussion continued. We came back to the topic of happiness and our conclusion was simple: You find happiness when you protect your heart and find your way home, or in others words, learn to love yourself and do the things that truly make you happy. Uncuttart adds, “It just brings such a great feeling. I woke up feeling like a billion today. I woke up feeling just so happy! Everyone should wake up like that. I’m about to create.”