When Ruben worked on his design, it had a little ninja character. When we showed the family the design, they asked us to change it to a little dinosaur. The little dinosaur was his favorite character and if you notice, instead of a sword he has a stick, so one of the things about Jayce, that his parents said is that he always walked around holding a stick as if it was a sword.

Monica Maldonado

Ruben Esquivel’s Artist Statement

Jayce Luevanos loved dinosaurs and ninjas. His favorite colors were blue and green and he loved making coffee for his family in the mornings. Jayce would write love letters for his loved ones and sign them with “I love you!”  

It was important to me that his family be part of the process and felt included in the mural. I reached out and asked to be connected directly with the family. We had a few phone calls and talked about things that Jayce loved, his family shared some memories and together we began conceptualizing the design. The month leading up to my arrival in Uvalde was nerve-racking. When the time came, I was nervous to finally meet Jayce’s family but they greeted me with open arms and with no hesitation and treated me as one of their own. We were family. His siblings were eager to assist me and helped me paint parts of the mural; After all, this piece is as much theirs as it is mine.   

The outpouring support from Jayce’s family and the entire community was humbling and unlike anything I have ever experienced. Jayce’s family would spend every evening and sometimes into the early hours of the morning with me, watching me paint as I poured my heart and soul into his mural. I wanted to create a space where Jayce’s friends, family and even strangers could come to spend time with him, see him, talk to him, and feel his presence. A place for healing. I wanted his family to be able to come see that sweet sparkle in his eye whenever they needed to.