Opinion: Painting the smiles of people we know, love and will never see again


Melissa Ortega, 8 a long time outdated and known for her smile, walked with her mom on West 26th Road in Chicago’s Small Village community on a Saturday afternoon, Jan. 22, when photographs rang out. Melissa Ortega was killed.&#13

Vigils and memorials ended up held. Stories appeared. Inside of times, a 16-year-aged — the alleged shooter — and a 27-yr-old person, who was with him, were billed with murder. Prosecutors say it was a gang shooting and Melissa Ortega was killed in the crossfire. U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” Garcia of Chicago reported, “How a lot of little ones need to we drop before we change program?”&#13

But inside weeks, Melissa Ortega’s killing obtained left driving in the accelerating crush of tales about COVID, inflation, and overseas conflicts.&#13

Milton Coronado obtained to function on a mural.&#13

“I knew I experienced to paint Melissa,” the artist explained to us. “To remind us of who we missing. What we misplaced.”&#13

Coronado has painted a lot of memorial murals in current years, tributes to men and women killed by gun violence.&#13

“Honestly, I’ve shed depend,” he advised us. He paused then mentioned, “10.”&#13

“We like to paint these murals in close proximity to in which the decline was, or near the place the man or woman lived,” he claims. “To hold them in our life.” His tribute to Melissa Ortega covers the facet of a building a few blocks from exactly where the very little lady was shot.&#13

The very first mural Coronado painted was of his father, Ramiro, who was shot and killed in Minor Village when Milton was 21.&#13

Artist Milton Coronado painted a mural of his father, Ramiro, who was also shot and killed in Chicago.

/ Milton Coronado


Milton Coronado

Artist Milton Coronado painted a mural of his father, Ramiro, who was also shot and killed in Chicago.

“When I painted Melissa,” he explained to us, “I was giving honor and respect to her, and memorializing my dad, too.”&#13

The mural of Melissa Ortega reveals a youthful girl with a shining smile, surrounded by fluffy clouds, vibrant bouquets, crimson balloons, smooth raindrops, and a rainbow beneath a bursting sunlight.&#13

“I wished to seize the purity, hope, pleasure, innocence, and creative imagination of a baby,” he reported. And, in lettering like a child’s, he painted a phrase from the bible. It interprets from Spanish as: “The Kingdom of God belongs to these who are like these youngsters.”&#13

“I like to paint living people today way too,” Coronado advised us. “But we flip on the news Monday morning, and it’s in double-digits, all the persons harm and killed.”&#13

If Coronado were to test to memorialize just about every murder target in Chicago about the earlier 3 several years, he would have to paint additional than 2,000 murals. His artwork can not restore lifestyle. But his paintings may possibly aid us retain men and women, and their hopes and smiles, alive in our hearts. &#13

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see additional, take a look at https://www.npr.org.

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