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21 Portrait Project memorializing Robb Elementary victims with murals in Uvalde

More than fifty artists are taking in part in creating murals of the 19 students and 2 teachers.

UVALDE, Texas — Atop a lift in Uvalde, Cristina Noriega is using her brush to paint a young girl she's never met with help from her assistant Alina De Leon.

"Something about Amerie Jo Garza's story just really touched me," said Cristina Noriega.

Noriega is a mother of two daughters, one of which is 10-years-old and in the fourth grade like Amerie was. The young girl died in the mass shooting at Robb Elementary on May 24.

"It really hit me and I just cried about it," said Noriega.

When finished, her portrait will show the girl in her favorite lavender dress posing in front of a paint pallet. Sun flowers will also decorate the background and a quote Amerie wrote out before her death will be included.

Noriega will also include Amerie's bronze cross, which she posthumously received from the Girl Scouts for her bravery during the shooting. Noriega said all the details were made at the request of her family.

Credit: KENS 5
Artists work on Amerie Jo Garza's mural in Uvalde.

Garza's mural will be surrounded by the paintings of the 20 other victims as part of the 21 Portraits Project. The project is under "Healing Uvalde" and will include one portrait of each victim.

The project came about after the founder of Mas Cultura Monica Maldonado connected with Uvalde artist and professor Abel Ortiz. Ortiz told her about his vision of the 21 portraits and asked her to manage the project. They raised funds to start the project and continue to take donations through a Go Fund Me.

Most of the artists taking part in the project are Latino.

“We definitely wanted to make sure that the story of the children could really be represented through someone who could identify with them,” said Maldonado.

The murals are going up at a time when grief is heightened in Uvalde. On Sunday, the Texas House Committee investigating the shooting is set to meet privately with the victims' families to reveal results of its investigation.

The preliminary report comes days after a video of the shooting was published publicly.

"I have so many mixed emotions about that," said Noriega.

Instead, Noriega is focused on finishing her mural in hopes of creating a space for the families to come heal.

"People will always remember [Amerie] and what an amazing little girl she was," she said.

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