The Art of the Heart

By Louise Irvine

How did the heart come to be symbolized in the shape we are so familiar with in Valentine cards and emojis? The symbol does not bear much relation to the actual form of a human heart, but it has become part of the universal language of love. This Valentine’s Day, instead of clicking on a heart emoji or sending a paper card, why not give a more lasting symbol of your love in the form of a glass heart by Josh Fradis.

Have a Heart

The glass hearts made by Josh Fradis are best sellers in the WMODA shop for Valentine’s Day. He makes the solid glass sculptures in many colors of the rainbow and they come with their own little plexiglass stand for display. Josh puts his heart and soul into every sculpture and you’ll be blown away watching him create a heart in the hot shop. For a limited period, Josh is offering to inscribe the back of your chosen heart with a message for your loved one. Select the color of your choice from the chart and Josh will inscribe your heart and send it to the recipient. Inscribed messages, including the recipient’s name, must be no more than 20 characters. Call WMODA now to place your order for a customized Valentine’s Day heart before February 6 at 954.376.6690.

Heart and Soul

Galen, the father of medicine in the second century, described the heart organ with three chambers shaped like a pinecone and early anatomical illustrations eventually evolved into the conventional heart symbol. Some ancient philosophers believed that the soul was situated in the heart and that it was the emotional center of the body. By the Medieval era, the heart had become an icon of courtly love in the decorative arts. A 13th century French manuscript Roman de la Poire is often cited as the earliest known depiction of a heart being presented to a damsel as a metaphor for romantic love. However, some argue that the suitor is holding a pear from the title Romance of the Pear.

The pinecone shape from early anatomical illustrations typically depicted the heart symbol upside down. In religious art, the vision of the Sacred Heart of Jesus helped establish the conventional heart-shape and orientation, which was sometimes used in ecclesiastical heraldry and other coats of arms. By the 15th century, the heart motif had assumed its more familiar form and become a suit on playing cards.

The Queen of Hearts

Playing cards inspired the nursery rhyme about the Queen of Hearts and the knave who stole her tarts, which first appeared in an English magazine in 1782. The fictional character was popularized later by Lewis Caroll in his Victorian children’s classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The Queen of Hearts is portrayed as a bad-tempered monarch who is quick to order executions at the slightest offense. "Off with their heads!" she shrieks. Fortunately, the executions never take place, often because the King of Hearts pardons the victims when the Queen is not looking. I have had fun playing the Queen of Hearts at several Mad Hatter’s tea parties over the years, including the first at the Royal Doulton gallery in Piccadilly, London in the 1980s.

Cupid’s Arrow

It was the popularity of Valentine’s Day during the Victorian era that led to greeting cards adorned with hearts and declarations of love. A broken heart was represented in two pieces while a wounded heart indicating lovesickness was depicted with Cupid’s arrow piercing it. Cupid is the Roman god of desire and erotic love and is usually portrayed as a chubby boy with a bow and arrow. Anybody who is shot with Cupid’s golden arrow is filled with uncontrollable desire. The barb on Cupid’s silver arrow has the power to induce hate in his victims.

Iconic Hearts

One of the most iconic logos in the United States is the graphic "I ♥ NY." designed by Milton Glaser in 1977. His original design sketch and presentation boards were donated by him to the New York Museum of Modern Art. MoMA also holds the original 176 emoji designed by Japanese artist Shigeta Kurita, which first appeared on mobile phones in the late 1990s. Emojis are more than just cute pictures, they were designed to add an emotional nuance to text. As the new digital language of the millennial age, the symbols need to cross cultures and time. In 2009, Google and Apple engineers submitted proposals to add 625 emojis to the Unicode standard and this was the beginning of legitimizing emoji as an official form of communication.

Language of Love

Emoji hearts are the latest way to send messages of love but be careful which color and style you choose as they all have different meanings. A red heart means true love; black – dark humor: yellow – happiness and friendship; green – jealousy; purple – compassion; orange – security; white – true love; and blue – trust and harmony. Design varieties, such as the pink sparkle heart, symbolize love and affection. Two hearts represent flirtatious love, and the heart with a bow means you are giving your heart to someone for life. Maybe this information will influence your color choice for Josh’s glass hearts?

A Heart of Gold

A new heart logo is becoming iconic thanks to public artist Lloyd Goradesky. His campaign button for his interactive love and kindness project Let LOVE Guide Your Way depicts a heart symbol on its side and is worn with the tip pointing to the heart to remind us to always be kind and loving. Lloyd’s monumental weathervane Let LOVE Guide Your Way has just been installed in the city of Boynton Beach and it will be a feature of Art in Motion 2021, the International Kinetic Art Exhibit in March. Lloyd will be talking about his kindness project during our Valentine’s event at WMODA on Saturday, February 13. You can see his garden size kinetic weathervane and all the smaller versions of Lloyd’s iconic heart designs, which are for sale at the museum shop. They are the perfect gift to melt your loved one’s heart on Valentine’s Day.

Let Love Guide Your Way to WMODA event information


Why not bring your loved one for a date at WMODA and sweet-talk them into your favorite Art from the Heart? The museum was voted one of the top dating spots in South Florida by Gift certificates are also available at the WMODA shop for other romantic choices, including jewelry, scented candles, or gifts inspired by The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. Valentine couples will enjoy Lloyd’s Love mugs filled with Hershey’s Kisses and Love Hearts, the iconic fizzy candy, which has been loved by Brits with a sweet tooth since 1954. (While stocks last.) Fall in Love with WMODA again this February – you will love all the changes since your last visit.


Dating Experts

Josh Fradis

Lloyd Goradesky

Art from the Heart

Venus and Cupid