Since the shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH, we’ve heard from politicians and protestors, lobbyists and gun owners. In South Florida, one young artist from El Paso is processing the tragedy through her art.
Emily Gonzalez, 19, moved to Miami three months ago with her mother Marya Flores, 39, who is an accountant. She’s still coming to terms with the hatred that fueled the tragedy in her hometown and left 22 people dead and scores wounded.
"My mom and my brother were all worried about us coming here to Miami, to a big city, so to hear that something had happened in El Paso this weekend, it was—it was just a total shock," said Gonzalez, who moved to South Florida to attend art school. "At first, I thought it was something small, I could believe it. And then, as we started seeing the images....we were just in shock the whole day. I couldn't believe it."
Since the shooting, Gonzalez been working on a new oil painting that she hopes can help her hometown community directly. She says it's about unity.
"That’s all I can think about. Something that I know everybody in El Paso—whether you’re white, black, Hispanic—has," she said. "It doesn't matter what race you are, if you grew up in El Paso, my art piece speaks unity, and that’s what I want us to have because we’re 'El Paso Strong' and we will get through this."
When it’s completed, her painting will be sent back to El Paso, where it will be auctioned off. The proceeds will go toward victims of gun violence.
She says her inspiration for most of her art has been her Mexican heritage. She makes what’s called ‘Chuco’ art, a form of Mexican-American art that originated in El Paso. Her paintings feature characters of Hispanic descent—faces and bodies against backgrounds of vibrant colors.
"I want to want to bring that Chuco art that I grew up in here to Miami. I want to help represent that," she said. "I want to spread the message that we’re Hispanics, we should be proud to be Hispanic that we should embrace our culture. Being in a country that was founded by immigrants. We should welcome more immigrants."