Sam Moris
Sam Morris

Sam Morris’ goals include seeing people wearing his Heartshine wearables in all 50 states and to benefit the Anti-Defamation League.

On Jan. 6, 29-year-old West Bloomfield resident Sam Morris was overcome with sadness as he watched the television coverage of the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

This came after a year of the pandemic, which was hard on Morris, who has autism. 

In response, Morris has turned to creating artwork to express his sadness in the form of love.

After watching the coverage, Morris sat down to draw to express his feelings on paper. The next day, on Jan. 7, his mother posted Sam’s drawing and a message on her Facebook page.

“After the events of yesterday, things felt so dark. Sam sat down to draw. He said that light can “penetrate the heart” and then the heart can shine. He calls it ‘HEARTSHINE.’ Here’s to more heartshine in 2021!”

Sam Morris’ original sketch of his Heartshine idea
Sam Morris’ original sketch of his Heartshine idea

After the drawing was posted on Facebook, Morris read the reactions from his friends, saw that it made people feel better, and thought about making a T-shirt.

Morris called Adam LaVoy of Royal Oak, who had worked with Morris at Friendship Circle’s Farber Soul Center in West Bloomfield, an art studio that encourages self-expression for adults with special needs.

Morris remembered LaVoy had a dream of opening a business to put art on T-shirts, an idea he had for about a decade. Morris’ call was the impetus for LaVoy to finally create and launch PeopleLoveArt.com, a brand and community celebrating the art of people with disabilities.

LaVoy collaborated closely with Morris to perfect his artwork and ensure it would work well on a T-shirt. Soon after, the first Heartshine T-shirt was born.

Orders have already come in from 14 states just by spreading the word on social media.

Morris’ goals include seeing people wearing his Heartshine wearables in all 50 states and to benefit the Anti-Defamation League. All proceeds after printing and shipping costs will be donated to the ADL.

Sam Morris works on the final Heartshine concept.
Sam Morris works on the final Heartshine concept.

“Heartshine 2021 is about light that penetrates through the heart to spread love all around the world,” Morris said. “I really wanted to do this because I felt heartbroken after a difficult year of people dying from the pandemic, followed by a new year where weapons penetrated through windows at the Capitol in D.C. People fighting, breaking windows, trying to spread hate across our country.

“I want everyone to understand we are better people with many ways to let love shine,” Morris continued. “Just like with a vaccine where a syringe penetrates through an arm to spread healing and build immunity in a body, rays of the sun penetrate through a heart to let it shine. I want Heartshine 2021 to provide a real warmth of light going through a real heart to spread love! I want to spread healing love instead of hate, and I look for light in the future ahead.”

Adding Artists

While Heartshine is currently PeopleLoveArt’s only shirt campaign and Morris is their only artist, LaVoy’s plan for People- LoveArt includes adding more artists to the product line with all new shirts.

“People can come for Heartshine and see that Sam is not alone in this community as someone trying to reach out and be understood,” LaVoy said. “Whatever they want to talk about, we want to be a megaphone to their message.”

Morris has been doing art for five-and-a-half years, and LaVoy believes art is the best way Morris expresses himself.

“Expression is really what lit Sam up about art,” LaVoy said. “He can use it as a means of expression and communication, where otherwise there might exist a barrier. But through art, people are paying attention to what you have to say.”

Morris is happy about the reaction so far and wants it to spread as quickly as possible, so people won’t have to “feel hate anymore” after the past year. Lavoy agrees.

“The thing I’ve been most pleasantly surprised with is not the number or volume of people reaching out, but what’s behind it,” LaVoy said. “People reach out not just saying, ‘We like what you’re doing, and we support it,’ but ‘this is so important, and how can I help?’”

LaVoy says the Heartshine design could continue as long as there’s demand, and there’s no telling how far Morris, Heartshine and PeopleLoveArt could go in drawing attention to positive messages.

“If we can keep doing good with this design, we’re going to keep doing that,” LaVoy said. “Every T-shirt, every print is to start these conversations. The more we can get them out there, the better.”

“I would say with a lot more confidence, Heartshine or not, this is certainly not the last apparel or artwork from Sam on People Love Art.”

Visit peopleloveart.com/heartshine to buy a shirt and help spread Sam’s message.