Because she won the basketball championship the Saturday before, so I decided to make it into a sports card design and at the bottom, it says “all-star”...She does have the number 21 on her jersey. That was her actual number, twenty-one, that was her mom’s birthday and that’s why she chose that number when she was in the basketball team.

Abel Ortiz

Abel Ortiz’s Artist Statement

I took a traditional approach to painting Ellie Garcia’s mural. I did a traditional pencil sketch, not a digital mock-up. I took a picture of the sketch and projected it on the 16’x31’ wall space. Most of the mural was brushed-on, there was some spray paint used for some of the lettering.  

After base coating and sketching the image onto the wall, I invited the family to paint some of the flowers at the bottom of the design. The parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents and sisters each painted a flower. This was the most important moment of the process for me. This gave the family a sense of belonging to the process of making the mural, of recreating Ellie. It helped me connect with the family, too.  

I worked closely with Jennifer and Steve as they told me more about Ellie and her spirit, love of life, her love for Jesus and hot sauce. The mural took longer to complete as I added their suggestions. Together, Ellie’s iconography came together. This mural would not have been complete without the collaboration of the family and my two assistants, Cristina Noriega and Jaime Prado.   

In general, I hope these portraits will plant a seed for change but will also continue to celebrate these innocent lives. We will never forget their names nor their faces.