October 1 will be the one-year anniversary of the worst mass shooting in United States history. Fifty-eight people were killed while attending the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Artist Ellen Abramo is commemorating the victims with portraits to be displayed in Las Vegas, giving life to the memories of those who are now gone. Abramo chose to organize this project after participating in a similar one commemorating the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting back in 2016. These portraits are her gifts to the victims’ loved ones, hoping that those who are still in mourning know that the community will never forget what happened, or the people who died.
“Our hearts are with them, and we hurt for them,” Abramo said. “We wish that we could bring their loved ones back, and this is the best thing that we can do with our talents.”
Abramo co-founded this project with her cousin, Kortney Struempf, who also felt a pull to help the victims’ families with art.
“Neither of us has any connection to any of the people who perished in either the Pulse nightclub or the Las Vegas shootings,” Struempf said. “We both just felt that if you have the talent and you can carve out the time to try to give back to families who have lost, basically, their world and their loved ones, then you can try to help them heal through art.”
The women asked artists through Facebook to join the project, with the stipulation that there would be no pay whatsoever, and artists would be responsible for covering all shipping and supplies costs. More than 100 people responded to the call, with artists from countries as far as Australia and South Africa offering their services.
The portraits are currently on display through October 19 in the Rotunda Gallery of the Clark County Government Center. At the end of the exhibit, portraits will be sent to the victims’ families through the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center.