2 El Paso Artists Take Part In Uvalde Mural Project To Honor Kids
Two El Paso artists were invited to Uvalde to participate in an art collective to create murals in honor of the lives lost in May.
The deadliest school shooting in Texas history occurred on May 24, 2022, when a lone gunman entered Robb Elementary School, opened fire, and killed nineteen children and two adults in the Latino town of Uvalde in South Texas.
El Pasoans sympathize with Uvalde as we, too, know what it's like to lose loved ones during a heinous and senseless act.
To begin healing, a day after the horrific act, Abel Ortiz, a professor at Southwest Texas Jr. College and Uvalde-based artist, partnered with Monica Maldonado, director and founder of the Austin-based non-profit MAS Cultura launching the Uvalde Mural Fundraiser on GoFundMe to complete a series of 22 murals, memorializing each victim.
The funds, which have since raised over $18K and counting, have been used to purchase books for children on grief, supplies, and lodging for the invited artists, all volunteering their time and skill set for the cause.
The portrait mural project, centered in Uvalde’s downtown area and spread across 5 to 6 buildings within a 6 to a 7-block radius, invited Texas-based artists and volunteers to participate in the art collab, including two well-known El Paso artists, Victor ‘Masks’ Casas and Tino Ortega.
After arriving at Uvalde, some artists had matched with specific victims because of family ties or connections; others, such as Casas and Ortega, read up on some of the kids and got to pick who to memorialize. Casas says, “It was hard to choose because your heart goes out to all the victims, but I finally choose Rogelio Torres.”
The El Paso artists said, “Rogelio reminded me of brother, his age, his big red cheeks and that smile - joyful. My brother was killed in Juarez in 2006, and Rogelio reminded me of him.”
Although Casa said it was difficult to choose which child to memorialize, he said it was an honor not only to get to paint Rogelio's image but soon realized he was his perfect match after speaking with his family and finding out that Rogelio and his kid brother shared similar personalities.
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Unfortunately, Casas came down with COVID on his second day in Uvalde and was unable to finish the mural; but he was able to prep and complete most of the mural and plans to return in the next week or so to add the final touches.
Meanwhile, another extraordinary El Paso artist, Tino Ortega, selected Jailah Nicole Silguero. He also shared that he got a chance to visit Jailah’s family while forging new friendships with fellow artists and the Uvalde community.
As with Casas, Ortega also shared that his time in Uvalde was an emotional experience. The local artist known for his 3D Mylar balloon murals across El Paso in memory of the August 3 victims said, “I felt really nervous because I just wanted to make sure the parents liked it. I can’t imagine what the family must be going through. I’m just glad her parents and siblings got to help in the painting process; hopefully, they’ll have some new happy memories of Jailah.”
For now, Casas and Ortega, along with the rest of the Texas-based artists, will add the finishing touches to their murals and, in a few weeks, will return for the official unveiling ceremony and art show.
For more details or to contribute to the Uvalde Mural Fundraiser on GoFundMe - Click HERE.