UVALDE, Texas — It's been more than a year since the tragic mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Twenty-one students and teachers were murdered and thousands more in the small Texas town continue to feel the immeasurable pain.
Now, a team of art therapists from Austin is helping make sure those victims are never forgotten.
On Joy Street in South Austin, you'll find a mural and a bright pink door to greet you. But inside is where magic and healing come together.
Wanda Montemayor is an art therapist in Austin and the creator of the Uvalde Love Project.
"It wasn't just like something that's structured and clinical. It was more of a healing centered engagement," Montemayor said.
Through the project, therapists went down to Uvalde to help those affected by the Robb Elementary shooting express themselves by creating thousands of tiles for a mosaic and opening up through art.
"It connects to all of us on a very basic level of understanding and, in many ways, in areas where our English language just does not have the ability to fulfill," said Kami Land, an art therapist with the Uvalde Love Project.
Land said the progression of the patients is inspiring.
"They've gone through tremendous pain and [are] now going through tremendous healing and working through that together. And to see everybody together and to hear the music and the colors and the smiles is – I get chills. It's going to be very exciting," Land said.
After months of work, the patients' mosaic of tiles was revealed to the people of Uvalde in August. It was unveiled at the Jardin Dallas Heroes Park in Uvalde because Montemayor said that is a central part of the town, allowing for many eyes to see the work and for conversations to be started.
Montemayor said many in Uvalde have their own connections to at least one of the victims who lost their lives at Robb Elementary.
"Twenty-one people were murdered, but there are 15 siblings and 45 siblings of those people. Nobody in Uvalde wasn't touched or affected by this," Montemayor said.
One of those people is sixth grader Vivian Trevino. She was a student at Robb Elementary up until a year before the shooting. She remembers the feelings rushing through her head on May 24 of last year.
"I knew my best friends were there. Maite Rodriguez and Sophia Cantu and my cousin, Eliahana Torres, was there. And so, I was just like really scared," Trevino said. "When I found out she really, they really did die, I burst out crying because I was just really sad that my best friend was dead and my cousin was dead too."
Maite Rodriguez and Eliahana Torres were two of the children killed. Trevino said the idea of therapy was difficult just after the shooting.
"I remember making something, like making a flower like this. I would make a lot of flowers," Trevino said.
But the Uvalde Love Project has helped her heal.
"That was a big relief because like, I never really like to talk to anyone about my feelings except for my friends," Trevino said.
Now she's remembering the times she spent with her friend and cousin through the art she created.
Montemayor said the Uvalde Love Project will keep going.
"Healing isn't like a race. And so, the amazing thing is that the community now trusts us. And so, I couldn't just stop after one year," Montemayor said.
The mosaic is now another reminder to the town of who was lost.
"It was really the most special part about it, is seeing everyone find their tiles without a question of a doubt," Montemayor said.
It's also a symbol of the path that the people of Uvalde continue to pave.
If you would like to help support the Uvalde Love Project's mission, you can donate here.