Art for the heart

Published 10:18 am Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Cardiac health is a field that all could benefit from knowing more about.

With February being American Heart Month, Clark Regional Medical Center and George Rogers Clark High School collaborated to raise awareness.

An art show featuring over 20 artists from George Rogers Clark High School took place, with paintings on display at the Clark Regional Medical Center cafeteria on Thursday evening.

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“We asked the high school to participate and gave some loose instruction to people to do heart-inspired artwork,” said Savannah Sullivan, the director of marketing and communications for Lifepoint Health Central Kentucky. “We supplied canvases, and students painted for us.”

The Community HeART Show, as it was officially known, happened from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. with treats – including lemon-flavored almonds, broccoli, crackers, and chips – present.

Participants included students Lauren Woodring, Emmie Rose, Zander Miller, Rileigh Reed, Savannah Angel, Olivia Adams, Isaiah Epperson, Julia Hymel, Sai Schnelle, Skylar Jude, Phillip Greer, Cara Riddle, Elliott Bowsher, Cloey Spencer, Aiden Shockey, Hannah Napier, Libby Taylor, Ella Vanhooser, Zarey Hooton, Jaylee Patrick, Aanyah Bentancur, and Jacklynn Dailey, and Ke’onna Smith.

George Rogers Clark High School art teachers Jennifer Speaks, Ashley Brinker, and Brittney Fuller guided them in their quest to create the artwork in just over two weeks.

“These are students that have a passion for art. I’ve never done a show that is in partnership with a medical community, and I think this is amazing,” said Speaks. “I want to do more. I think this is just beautiful work. It’s meaningful for the students.”

Shari Reynolds, the senior director of outpatient services at Clark Regional Medical Center, spoke of cardiovascular disease’s impact.

“It’s important to us that we don’t stop educating our community,” Reynolds said. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, and it claims almost 700,000 lives a year.”

Many of the artworks present reflected making awareness of this issue a priority.

Aiden Shockley, a junior who has seen heart issues closely impact his family, created artwork with the words, ‘Watch your heart or you might just fall apart’ and had a bright, smiling face in a cloud on one half of the page contrasting with a dark, frowning heart on the other half.

“I was trying to show that if you take care of your heart, it’s flying and happy. If you don’t take care of your heart, it’s [going] to break down and not work properly,” Shockley said.

Sophomore Rileigh Reed, whose painting also included an original poem, showed that students were dedicated.

“I started it on a Sunday, and I worked on it for six hours from four to ten o’clock,” Reed said. “I really wanted to encapsulate how much the heart means to people, and I really focused in on the poem because I knew it could bring people comfort.”

For the contest portion, students were evaluated on different categories – creativity, using elements and principles, craftsmanship and skill development, understanding achievement and completion, and participation, focus, and effort.

Jason Johnson, a radiology manager at Clark Regional Medical Center, served as one of the four judges.

“It’s just unbelievable how the students have done on this project,” Johnson said. “It’s truly going to be extremely hard to pick a winner here because they’ve done an amazing job.”

With a painting that showed flowers of different colors blooming from a heart, junior Ke’onna Smith officially won the contest.

As a result, she received a $500 cash scholarship.

“I’m very grateful to win this and [have] an opportunity to show off my creativity and my skills,” Smith said. “Heart failure has really impacted my family…I’d like to thank my mom and my friends for encouraging me. Thank you for all the compliments from everyone.”

However, each of the students participating was deserving of recognition.

“We have such a super talented, amazing group of students this year,” Speaks added. “They did this with not a lot of turnaround time. I know a lot of professional artists that would have struggled to get that type of work in, and I’m just so proud of them.”