A Year After Uvalde School Shooting, Murals Honor 21 Victims: 'Art Has the Power to Help These Families Heal'

The 'Healing Uvalde' murals were conceived by longtime resident Abel Ortiz in the days after the May 24, 2022, school shooting

Maite Yuleana Rodriguez - Uvalde Murals
Maite Rodriguez. Photo:

Al Rendon; Art by: Ana Hernandez

The healing power of art is hard at work on the streets of Uvalde, Texas. Last year, the small South Texas city was the site of one of the nation’s deadliest mass shootings when a gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School, taking the lives of 19 students and 2 teachers. Healing Uvalde is an outdoor mural project honoring the 21 victims that was conceived in the days after the May, 24, 2022, tragedy by longtime Uvalde resident Abel Ortiz, an associate professor of art at Southwest Texas Junior College whose children, now grown, attended the school where the mass shooting occurred. 

“I know, from my own experience, that art has the power to help these families heal from the monumental pain that they’re going to experience for the rest of their lives,” says Ortiz, who worked with more than 20 artists to create the murals, as well as with Dr. George Meza and Monica Maldonado of MAS Cultura. “This is a reason why the murals had to be monumental and why they had to be portraits so that we remember their faces and their names. Hopefully, they become voices for change as well, as we need change in this country. The murals hopefully will persuade the hearts of Americans to bring change.”

Check out the Healing Uvalde murals, photographed by Al Rendon @rendonphotographyandfineart.

Nevaeh Bravo, 10

Nevaeh Bravo- Uvalde Murals
Nevaeh Bravo.

Al Rendon; Art by: Brittany Johnson

Nevaeh’s name spelled backwards is “heaven.” After her death, the girl’s aunt wrote on Facebook, “She is flying with the angels above. We love you Nevaeh very much princess!”

Jackie Cazares, 9

Jackie Cazares- Uvalde Murals
Jackie Cazares.

Al Rendon; Art by: Kimie Flores

Jackie was killed with her cousin Annabell Rodriguez. After Jackie’s death, her father, Jacinto Cazares, wrote on Facebook that Jackie was "full of life and love” and added, “We're devastated in ways I hope no one ever goes through. ... It hurts us to our souls."

RELATED: Grieving Uvalde Mom Says Guns Are 'More Important' Than Children in America, 1 Year After Shooting

Makenna Lee Elrod, 10

Makenna Lee Elrod- Uvalde Murals
Makenna Lee Elrod.

Al Rendon; Art by: Silvy Ochoa and Courtney Jimenez

Makenna loved tumbling, a friend's mother told The Dallas Morning News. "She had the biggest heart and loved her family and friends so much," Makenna's aunt wrote in a verified GoFundMe page set up for her family.

Jose Flores Jr., 10

Jose manuel Flores- Uvalde Murals
Jose Flores Jr.

Al Rendon; Art by: Tino Ortega

Hours before he was killed, Jose was one of several star students who received a certificate for making the school honor roll. His father, Jose Flores Sr., told CNN, "He was always full of energy, ready to play till the night." His favorite pastimes were baseball and video games.

Eliahna 'Ellie' Garcia, 9

Ellie Garia- Ulvade Murals-
Ellie Garcia.

Al Rendon; Art by: Abel Ortiz

Ellie was a basketball player in Uvalde’s youth league who was very involved with her Christian faith. After her death, her mother Jennifer wrote on Facebook, "My heart is shattered to pieces. I love you baby girl I will never stop thinking of you !!!"

RELATED: Family of Uvalde Victim Eliahna Garcia Holds Funeral Days After She Would've Turned 10

Irma Garcia, 48

Joe & Irma Garcia- Uvalde Murals
Joe & Irma Garcia.

Al Rendon; Art by: Cease Martinez

A teacher at Robb Elementary School, Garcia was remembered on a GoFundMe page set up in her honor as a loving wife and mother to four children. "Sweet, kind, loving. Fun with the greatest personality," the page read. Garcia loved to barbecue with her husband of 24 years, Joe, and to listen to music. She had been a teacher at the school for 23 years.

RELATED: Town of Uvalde Pays Respects to Teacher Irma Garcia and Her Husband Joe, Who Died 2 Days Apart

Uziyah Garcia, 9

Uziyah Garcia- Uvalde Murals
Uziyah Garcia.

Al Rendon; Art by: Richard Samuel

"Uziyah was the sweetest little boy that I've ever known," Uziyah’s grandfather, Manny Renfro, told the AP, quickly clarifying: "I'm not just saying that because he's my grandkid." Uziyah was learning how to play football. "Such a fast little boy and he could catch a ball so good,” Renfro said. Uziyah left behind two sisters.

Amerie Jo Garza, 10

Amerie Jo Garza- Ulvade Murals
Amerie Jo Garza.

Al Rendon; Art by: Cristina Noriega

Amerie loved nothing more than her family, especially her little brother, 3-year-old Zayne, her grandmother, Berlinda Arreola, 49, told PEOPLE. The day of the shooting, Amerie marked a major milestone for a 4th grader: She made the honor roll. She was shot to death while trying to call 911. "She was so protective," her grandmother said. "She always wanted to help.”

RELATED: 'She Was Trying to Call 911 and He Shot Her': Texas Shooting Victim Amerie Jo Garza, 10, Remembered as Hero

Xavier Lopez, 10

Xavier Lopez- Uvalde Murals
Xavier Lopez.

Al Rendon; Art by: Amado Castillo III

Xavier Lopez was excited for summer to roll around so he could spend his days off swimming, his cousin, Lisa Garza, told the AP. "He was just a loving 10-year-old little boy, just enjoying life. He was very bubbly, loved to dance with his brothers, his mom." 

Jayce Luevanos, 10

Jayce Carmelo Luevanos- Uvalde Murals-
Jayce Luevanos.

Al Rendon; Art by: Ruben Esquivel

On the morning of the shooting, Jayce asked his grandmother if he could go with her on another class’ trip to the San Antonio Zoo, his grandfather Carmelo Quiroz, told USA Today. His family told him that he couldn’t miss a day of classes so close to the end of the school year “He was so sad he couldn’t go,” Quiroz said. “Maybe if he would have gone, he’d be here.”

RELATED: Texas School Shooting: What We Know About the Victims

Tess Mata, 10

Tess Marie Mata- Uvalde Murals
Tess Mata.

Al Rendon; Art by: Anat Ronen

"My precious angel you are loved so deeply," Tess’ sister, Faith, wrote on Twitter. "In my eyes you are not a victim but a survivor. I love you always and past forever baby sister, may your wings soar higher then you could ever dream. Till we meet again Tess Marie, love your big sissy."

Maranda Mathis, 11

Maranda Mathis- Uvalde Murals
Maranda Mathis.

Al Rendon; Art by: Luis Angulo

Maranda’s mother, Deanna Gornto, told KSAT that Maranda had a “kind heart.”

“I want people to remember her by her love of animals. I want them to remember her smile and beautiful eyes,” said Gornto.

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Eva Mireles, 44

Eva Mireles- Uvalde Murals
Eva Mireles.

Al Rendon; Art by: Sandra Gonzalez

Mireles was one of two teachers killed at Robb Elementary School. According to her school district teacher bio, she was a fourth grade teacher who loved running and hiking. For five years, she had been co-teaching the grade with fellow instructor Irma Garcia, who was also killed. Mireles' daughter Adalynn paid tribute to her mother on Twitter, writing, "My sweet mommy, I will miss you forever."

RELATED: Teacher Killed in Texas School Shooting ID'd as Eva Mireles, 44, a Mom Who Loved the Outdoors

Alithia Ramirez, 10

Alithia Ramirez- Ulvade Murals
Alithia Ramirez.

Al Rendon; Art by: Juan Velazquez

Alithia’s aunt Rosemarie Ramirez told PEOPLE last year that her niece loved to draw. She showed a PEOPLE reporter a photo of a drawing of sunflowers Alithia had made for her, saying, “It's the last thing she gave me."

RELATED: Uvalde Victim's Google Doodle Shared, Along with Note: 'I Want People to be Happy'

Annabell Rodriguez, 10

AnnaBell Guadalupe Rodriguez
Annabell Rodriguez.

Al Rendon; Art by: Joey C Martinez

Annabell Rodriguez died alongside her cousin, Jackie Cazares, who was also 10. Annabell’s sister, Lidia Anthony Luna, wrote on Facebook that Annabell was looking forward to the upcoming summer vacation. "Now," Luna wrote, the two cousins are "dancing up in the sky, watching over us."

RELATED: 10-Year-Old Uvalde Victims Who Texted 'I Love You' to Each Other at Bedtime Will Be Buried Side by Side

Maite Rodriguez, 10

Maite Yuleana Rodriguez - Uvalde Murals
Maite Rodriguez.

Al Rendon; Art by: Ana Hernandez

After Maite’s death, her mother Ana Rodriguez wrote on Facebook: “As I lay here on this empty bed and with tears running down my face at 3am I would like to say to my baby girl ‘it’s not goodbye it’s I’ll see you later my sweet girl.’”

Alexandria 'Lexi' Rubio, 10

Alexandria Aniyah Rubio- Ulvade Murals
Alexandria Aniyah Rubio.

Al Rendon; Art by: Filiberto Mendieta

In a Facebook post, Alexandria Rubio's mother, Kimberly Mata-Rubio, wrote, "My beautiful, smart, Alexandria Aniyah Rubio was recognized today for All-A honor roll. She also received the good citizen award. We told her we loved her and would pick her up after school. We had no idea this was goodbye."

RELATED: How a Uvalde Mother Turned Her Grief into Action: 'I Want Children to Have a Chance to Grow Up'

Layla Salazar, 11

Layla Salazar- Uvalde Murals-
Layla Salazar.

Al Rendon; Art by: Alvaro Zermeno

The happy girl, who loved jamming to "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns 'N' Roses with her dad on the way to school, was fondly known as the "princess" of her family, according to her parents' Facebook profiles.

RELATED: Nearly a Year After Mass Shooting, Uvalde Family Says 'We're Lost' Without Daughter Killed at School

Jailah Silguero, 10

Jailah Nicole Silguero- Uvalde Murals
Jailah Silguero.

Al Rendon; Art by: Tino Ortega

Jailah loved to dance and film TikTok videos, her mom Veronica Luevanos told the Los Angeles Times. On the day of the shooting,  Jailah, who normally enjoyed school, "didn't want to go." On Facebook, her grieving mother wrote, "I'm so heartbroken baby. We miss you so much mama R.I.P my beautiful angel fly high baby can't wait to see u again."

Eliahna Torres, 10

Eliahna A Torres- Uvalde Murals
Eliahna Torres.

Al Rendon; Art by: Filiberto Mendieta

Eliahna was looking forward to her final softball game of the season on the day she was killed. "I talked to her last night," her aunt told KENS-TV, "and she was kind of nervous, saying that it was her last game, and she didn't want softball to end."

RELATED: 'We're in a Nightmare': Stories of Anguish and Love from Uvalde

Rojelio Torres, 10

Rojelio Torres- Uvalde Murals
Rojelio Torres.

Al Rendon; Art by: Floyd Mendoza III and Jesse de Leon

Rojelio’s aunt, Precious Perez, told KSAT-TV after the boy’s death: "We are devastated and heartbroken. Rojer was a very intelligent, hard-working and helpful person. He will be missed and never forgotten.”

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