UVALDE, Texas — 21 murals are being painted in Uvalde to honor the 21 victims of the Robb Elementary shooting and Corpus Christi residents may recognize the style of some of the work.
Sandra Gonzalez, a former West Oso ISD employee and longtime artist who now lives in San Antonio, is responsible for some of the colorful artwork on buildings around Corpus Christi and was asked to paint the mural in Uvalde honoring teacher Eva Mireles.
"I am a teacher and a muralist; it was important for me to celebrate the life of a teacher who was passionate about education and died as a hero," Gonzalez said.
The mural was created in five days of "intense labor," Gonzalez said, and the family of Mireles picked up paintbrushes and put their own love into the artwork.
"On the last day, the family came to witness the completion of the mural," Gonzalez said. "It was an afternoon of labor and love; her family was blasting Eva’s favorite songs while they were taking turns helping me finish this massive mural of 18ft x 30ft."
The mural shows Eva with her arms outstretched holding two flags. One of them says “Always Strong.” Gonzalez painted Eva "surrounded by her favorite colors, flowers, glowing mountains, and diamond hills."
Gonzalez's mural will be surrounded by the paintings of the 20 other victims as part of the 21 Portraits Project. The project is under "Healing Uvalde" and will include one portrait of each victim.
"During my days in Uvalde, I witnessed many people admiring the murals and supporting this project," Gonzalez said. "The community was very attentive, always offering and bringing water and food to the artists.
The project came about after the founder of Mas Cultura Monica Maldonado connected with Uvalde artist and professor Abel Ortiz. Ortiz told her about his vision of the 21 portraits and asked her to manage the project. They raised funds to start the project and continue to take donations through a Go Fund Me.
Most of the artists taking part in the project are Latino.
“We definitely wanted to make sure that the story of the children could really be represented through someone who could identify with them,” said Maldonado.
Mireles taught in Uvalde ISD for nearly 17 years. She had a certification for special education. Her passion was teaching students of all abilities.
She loved helping her students succeed, and so proud when she witnessed them graduate.
"I can't say enough about Eva. She was like my sister. Her and I thought a lot alike. She was straightforward," family spokesperson Juan Maldonado told our sister station KENS5. "If I was doing something wrong, she was going to tell me."
Another Corpus Christi artist, Jeremy Flores, was commissioned to paint the mural of Uvalde student Jose Flores. The weight of the responsibility is something Flores does not take lightly.
"I did a little bit of thinking and talked to my family, this is definitely something I want to bring over there to those victims," Flores said.
All 21 murals are expected to be completed in August. More than fifty artists are participating.
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