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Heart to Heart

The Rome Area Council for the Arts and Redmond Regional Medical Center have collaborated again this year for the Rome Community HeART Project in celebration of National Heart Month.

For the past four years, local artists have decorated large cement hearts and heart garlands with their artistic vision of heart health. The hearts are placed throughout downtown Rome during the month of February to bring heart health awareness to the community.

Now in its fifth year, the Rome Community HeART project will include 14 large hearts and 4 heart garlands: a total of 18 opportunities for local artists to share what heart health means to them.

“Public art is a symbol of a vibrant community, and the arts in Rome are thriving,” said RACA Executive Director Mandy Maloney. “Our artists have talent beyond compare, and sharing a heart healthy message makes this project extra special.”

Hearts and Heart Garlands represent several individual artists and local businesses including The Dance Center, Rome Shakespeare Festival, Pepperell 2nd Grade, Garden Lakes 5th Grade, Melissa Rutledge, Pepperell High, Lisa Ingram, James Schroeder, Darlington Middle Advanced Art Students, Carla Wilson, Zoey Tatum, Siri Selle, Darlington PreK through 2nd, Olivia Escutia, Jennifer Moore and Emily Taylor, Rome Little Theatre and Rome Symphony Orchestra.

Local potter Lisa Ingram is one of the artists who designed and decorated a heart for the project.

“I have always loved this project and the idea of using art to inspire health and happiness,” she said. “I’ve had itty bitty babies since this project began a few years ago and finally decided this was the year I would take on the challenge of a large scale art project. I worked at Redmond for several years and left to pursue my art so I was excited to support such a great hospital with my art.”

Smith explained the thought process behind the design of her specific art.

“My HeART reads “First Breathe, Then Rise,” she said. “This has become somewhat of a constant needed reminder for me to live by as I often finds myself doing one without the other. If we only Breathe - think, plan and wait, we will never Rise. If we only Rise - act, work, and busy ourselves in the many tasks of the day, we will never Breathe. We can only be healthy, whole and purposeful when we balance the two. The posing figures on the HeART pay tribute to the role yoga has played in healing and strengthening my life the past few years.”

The design of Melissa Rutledge’s heart is a unique one and can easily be identified as her’s. She’s a veteran of the HeART project and as the founder of Rome Knitterati, her heart bears vibrantly colored knitted sunflowers.

“I first participated in the RACA HeART Project in 2016,” she said. “I had just had major cancer surgery and it was the perfect project to work on during my medical leave. While I was working on my HeART, my father Dwain suffered a heart attack and had a life-saving bypass surgery at Redmond Regional Medical Center. So I literally got to work on a HeART for RACA and while waiting in ICU at Redmond during my father’s heart surgery - talk about full circle.

Rutledge said the project became a very healing experience while she and her dad both recovered from their surgeries.

“It reminds me of how strong we both are, so I’ve enjoyed continuing to participate in this project for the third consecutive year,” she said. “As the founder of Rome Knitterati, I always yarnbomb my HeARTs to raise awareness to the yarn arts. Plus, it’s just fun! This year I decided to blend my love of crochet with my love of gardening by crocheting huge sunflowers and using the HeART legs as the stems.”

“As Northwest Georgia’s heart hospital, Redmond is thrilled to celebrate our 5th year in partnership with RACA to present the Rome Community HeART Project,” added Andrea Pitts, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Redmond Regional Medical Center. “The HeARTs are a beautiful way to bring public art to Downtown Rome, highlight our wonderful local artists, and spread a message of heart health awareness in our community.”

The community is invited to visit, take pictures, and enjoy each HeART through Feb. 28. HeART progress can be followed on Instagram (@romearts), Facebook by searching “romearts” and by searching the hashtag #HeART2018. The people’s choice award will be given to the HeART that receives the most votes via RACA’s Facebook page. Voters can vote once a day by visiting the page and clicking “Vote for a HeART.”

For more information about the Rome Community HeART Project, visit Also, look for bios and photos of this year’s artists throughout the month of February.