The Queen of (Hidden) Hearts

A student campaigns to add joy to people’s lives

By Ariel Kraakman

Piper Martz puts her heart into everything she does. A social Bryn Mawr College freshman with long brown hair, clear blue eyes and a ready smile, she is a college’s dream of “well-rounded”. In her profile on she describes herself as “a right-brain, left-brain type of person…creativity surges out of me and flows into everything I do.” She’s a researcher, a soccer player, a photographer, and ran for class president. Learn more about her, however, and you’ll realize that her heart is literally everywhere–or should we say, her hearts.

Perhaps you are in a dark corner of a library basement looking through old books. You open a dust-covered volume at random, and out falls a red cardboard heart. Something special is written on it. Piper has been here, and she has been hoping for this moment.

Piper Martz is one of perhaps hundreds of people around the globe who leave messages on cardboard hearts as part of the Little Red Heart Project, an American-based initiative started by two girls. Or so Piper thinks. “There’s no time frame on when it started, or how long it’s been going,” she said one Friday night. “And I don’t even think…the creators take credit. I think it might be more anonymous…which is clever.”  She was sitting on a cozy couche in a well-lit common room. The easy flow of  conversation seemed to take its own form in the cascade of waist length hair spilling over her fine green scarf and down her long tie-dyed dress.

A Hopeful Message

“You create a little red heart that’s painted red or sharpied red,” she explained, “and you-you leave a piece of your heart behind, in random places. And you write a secret, or someone else’s secret, or a thought, or quote…there’s something very exhilarating about leaving part of you behind.” Piper decorates her hearts with uplifting quotes, hoping that people will find them and make hearts themselves.

The project had become a small international sensation by the time Piper heard about it. She recalls enthusiastically how, after reading about it online, she immediately “wanted to get my hands dirty and start crafting.” These days Piper often takes a stash of hearts with her wherever she goes. She leaves them around campus, in shoes at the mall, on train seats, and in between candy bars at the store, to name a few locales. “Art can carry such a powerful message and…for me…happiness is so contagious,” she said. “And I like to-I don’t know-to inflict that on people as often as possible.” Continue reading