The collectivity of this project exemplifies the diversity of Pulse. All of the artists have their own style, and all of the images were created to be their own.
By Patrick Jude
If there was ever a day where it seemed as though humanity had some effect on the weather, it was the morning after Pulse. The sky was grey. The wind was warm and whipping whirlwinds, giving little lifts to withered leaves drifting down puddled streets.
The day was still. Unfortunately, only one name was uttered, at least on every news station that wasn’t local. In a fitting response, artist Mia Merlin began her project, The 49 Portraits. It is the single greatest exhibition of art I have witnessed and I recommend, with the most ultimate urgency, that you visit, and view it in the Orlando City Hall.
Along with a massively talented team of contributors, Mia Merlin set out to create everlasting portraits of the 49 men and women who were taken from the world during this month of last year. All of the artists have their own style, and all of the images were created uniquely. The collectivity of this project exemplifies the diversity of Pulse. All of the artists have their own style, and all of the images were created to be their own.
Face to face, it shows that every person was their own; man, woman, black, white, young, old, all indelibly human. The portraits, recreated from photos, show where these members of our community were in their lives at the time. Graduation photos with eager eyes, gleam earnestly back at you. You wonder how they would have fulfilled the world, but you know they truly wished to.
Veteran Antonio Davon Brown, pictured in his uniform, reminds of the courage which became synonymous with Pulse. You look at these portraits knowing that many lead survivors into hiding, some even giving their lives in order to shield others. Humbling, faced with the eyes of heroes.
A special note from Merlin at the beginning of the exhibit calls for an experience sans politics, and she’s right. Politicians, on both sides, have exploited these lives to make their points. It’s egregious, period, regardless of who is doing it or even if you agree with them. The Left uses it as case evidence for gun control measures; the Right uses it to instill xenophobic terrorist-mania. It’s wrong. Point blank, it is wrong.
The only political lesson we need to take away from Pulse is to avoid any politician trading kings and queens for political pawns. We’re better than that.
The exhibit will be in City Hall until June 14th; afterwards the portraits will be given to the families of each individual. This isn’t an exhibit to just “ooo” and “ahh” at; this exhibit is a piece of history.
Along with the 49 faces are the 49 names. Read them. Make a point to remember one, keep it alive.
Born and raised in Orlando, Patrick Jude is a recent graduate of The University Of Central Florida. He holds a B.A. in English Literature as well as an A.A. in Jazz Performance. Jude enjoys performing and is an active musician in Central Florida. As a member of The Getbye he fills the most glorified role of any band…Bass.