The Healing Murals of Uvalde, Texas are now available for a virtual tour through the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino.
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The City of Uvalde, Texas is a sleepy town located in the Texas Hill Country, with a population of over 15,000. Previously, it was only known as the hometown of famed actor Matthew McConaughey. On May 24, the fate of this small town was forever changed. An 18-year-old youth walked into Robb Elementary School unobstructed with an AR-15 assault rifle and fatally shot 19 children and two teachers. The shooter remained in the classroom for approximately 45 minutes, while law enforcement waited outside. It was more than an hour before the members of the United States Border Patrol Tactical Unit entered the unlocked classroom and fatally shot him. The deceased children ranged in age from 9 to 11 years. The shooting was the third-deadliest shooting in the history of the United States. There are many collateral pieces to this story, including the sudden death of Joe Garcia, husband of slain teacher Irma Garcia, who died two days after his wife of a sudden heart attack.
The Healing Murals of Uvalde project began on May 25, 2022. Artist Abel Ortiz, from Art Lab Uvalde, and Dr. George Meza, a trauma Psychologist and collector of Chicano art from Los Angeles, collaborated on the idea of developing commemorative murals in Uvalde, as a pathway to healing for the surviving families and victims (16 children and 1 teacher were wounded). They were joined in the venture by Monica Maldonado, Executive Director of MAS Cultura, a cultural arts agency in Austin. Through the collaborative effort, 21 portrait murals of the school shooting victims have been completed throughout Uvalde. The parents of the victims were interviewed beforehand, and their feedback incorporate into the murals. For example, 10-year-old Alithia Ramirez dreamed of become an artist. Her mural depicts includes replications of her drawings. Maite Rodriguez, 10, dreamt of attending Texas A&M University to become a Marine Biologist: Her mural includes depictions of sea life throughout (Subsequently, Texas A&M University now offers a scholarship in her name. A replica of her mural will be placed at Texas A&M University). The murals have had a significant impact on the surviving families and community members. They have become a tourist attraction and were recently featured in the Kelly Clarkson show. In addition, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino will be offering a virtual tour of the murals, making them accessible to millions worldwide.