Courtney Arte’s Artist Statement
I was honored to participate in a couple Uvalde murals and as co-lead for Makenna’s mural. After speaking with Makenna’s family, Silvia Ochoa designed the mural based on what Makenna’s family shared with us. They wanted it to tell more of a story with a traditional feel. The animals that I painted in Makenna’s mural were all her family’s animals. Her dog Bailey, horse, steer, pig, pony, and baby chick. Makenna was a very affectionate kindhearted girl that loved to write notes to her family, so we painted the note she wrote her mom in the sky with the butterflies she loved. Then we had Makenna’s family paint the rainbow on her shirt which was the exact replica of a rainbow she painted on a rock. Not only did Makenna’s family lose Makenna but they lost dear friends and their stories are with me forever.
Silvia "Silvy" Ochoa’s Artist Statement
When I sat down to design, I asked myself what Makenna would love, because the mural had to have Makenna’s spirit all around so the family would recognize her essence on the composition. This would bring moments of joy, which ultimate goal is to help heal.
I first met the dad at the mural site where he so kindly shared videos and photos of Makenna that helped me add a deeper meaning to the elements of my composition. It was very emotional when April, the mom, and the rest of the family arrived. We shared hugs and words of gratitude; they patiently witnessed her portrait slowly coming to life.
The family had shared a photo of Makenna holding a rainbow painted on a rock, I transferred the same pattern to the mural as a design on her shirt, it made it special for the family to pick a color they felt a connection with and fill in the rainbow.
Every single element on the mural has a meaning, starting with the so girly colorful sky, with its dramatic gorgeous clouds where forever her name will sit. All those seven different kinds of animals were hers, we painted rocks on the river shore with little paint specks representing Makenna’s love for painting river rocks, the four trees represent her and her siblings, that’s why three of them have pink leaves on it, representing her and her two sisters while her brother’s doesn’t have pink on it. The three butterflies, Tiger swallowtail, represent her, mom, and dad, those are the same kind her family feels a special connection with. The butterflies have a shadow on the mural itself meaning they aren’t inside the landscape but in our world like standing on the mural; they represent the connection between both worlds, ours and Makenna’s. That is her handwriting that we projected, it’s originally “I love you mom so so so much mom” but from an act of love from mom we modified it.
We tried to include everything that composed her life and tell her story and make it full because love is full and Makenna loved hard.