On May 24, 2022, Jailah’s life ended far too soon in Uvalde TX. In the days after the senseless mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, I created portraits of all 21 victims and, together with volunteers in the area, donated copies to all of the families. I choose to highlight each child in a way that showed their energy, vibrancy, and joy. I also intentionally left many pieces missing from the portraits, to symbolize the lives that were were senselessly cut short; their stories are paintings that will never be finished.
The senseless violence of American gun culture must stop.
I was profoundly hit by the impact of this massacre… my children are the same age as these children, and I used to live a few hours away from Uvalde. I was deeply saddened by the loss these families will forever face. Creating these portraits was the only way I knew how to cope with the sadness, confusion, and anger that I was feeling at the time; I literally wept as I created them.
It was heartbreaking to speak with the families, and at first I was worried that these portraits would be too hurtful for them to bear… but the families overwhelmingly told me that they brought a little light back to their lives. It is encouraging to know that something as simple as a drawing can make someone feel better; and I guess that’s what art is for… knowing there is hope that a single person can help make a small difference in the world.