Holding Her Heart in Her Hands

Folks Magazine (Amazon/PillPack)

Jen Hyde finds creative inspiration in the people and stories hidden behind the technology that keeps her heart condition in check.

The origins of the bioprosthetic pulmonary valve inside Brooklyn poet/visual artist Jen Hyde’s chest are well documented: when the valve was manufactured, the source of its metals, the identity and provenance of the cow who provided biological tissue, the names of those whose hands sewed the valve, who supervised its sewing, who approved its completion. Embedded deep in the heart of a database, the valve’s creation story is easily read.

But there are more stories surrounding this small piece of tissue and technology than can be found in a computer system. Namely, those of the technicians (often immigrant women) who create such valves, and those of the patients that rely on them. Inspired by these hidden stories, Hyde is developing two creative research projects that explore these larger narratives: a book-length lyric essay deconstructing the patient experience of people like herself, and an experimental documentary highlighting the immigrant and refugee stories that form the backbone of California’s vast biomedical technology industry. . . .

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