Over 100 soldiers from Georgia have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the number keeps climbing. The families of these soldiers are also casualties of war, and in 2005 a group of Atlanta artists decided to help in the best way they knew how – through their art. Portrait painters Lisa Gleim, Leah Hopkins Henry and Geri Zaki are the founders of the project which became known as “Art from the Heart.” Enlisting the aid of dozens of other artists, they formed an organization called the Atlanta Fine Arts League, which has donated hundreds of hours to paint the portraits of Georgia’s fallen soldiers.
The paintings were initially exhibited at the National Museum of Patriotism in Atlanta in September 2007 and then were given free of charge to the soldiers’ families across Georgia. State of the Arts followed Lisa, Leah and Geri through the process of contacting the families of Army Specialist Jamaal Addison of Lithonia, Army Specialist Justin Johnson of Rome, and First Lieutenant Tyler Brown of Atlanta. In each case the artists formed a bond not only with family members, but also with the soldiers, whom they came to care about in the process of creating their lifelike portraits.
As long as Georgia soldiers continue to die in Iraq and Afghanistan, the artists of the Atlanta Fine Arts League are committed to continue their project, “Art from the Heart.” To learn more, visit the Atlanta Fine Arts League website.