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Osceola County News Brief - Pulse 49 Art Exhibit

 

Portraits of the 49 victims of the Pulse tragedy currently are on display in the Osceola County Administration building.

Recently, family members had an opportunity to view the portraits and to speak with the County Commissioners. The family members, while tearful, expressed joy in the artwork and appreciation to the artist, Joanne Bowring, who lovingly created them. Bowring's artistic creations are meant to bring comfort to the victims’ families and friends, many of whom called Osceola County home.

“This exhibit is a loving remembrance of these 49 people who are missed – especially during the holidays. They are someone our hearts hold onto because their memory makes life so special,” said Cheryl Grieb, Vice Chairwoman of the County Commission. “When we look at these portraits, we can think of them as twinkling stars representing these “angels,” who are in a place of peace and love where they can dance, play and watch over us for all eternity. Let us pause to remember them, let us fondly recall how dearly each loved – and how we love them all.” The artwork is being displayed for the first time and was made available to the County through a victim’s family member.

Bowring, who lives in Wisconsin, has been a graphic artist and illustrator of portraits for 35 years. She hopes the art counteracts the acts of violence she says has hurt so many families. Subjects of her other projects have included soldiers killed in Iraq and the 20 children killed in Sandy Hook. When she learned of the Pulse nightclub shootings, she spent an entire year researching the victims.

Each illustration includes song lyrics chosen specially for each person, along with a letter to that person’s family. At the end of the exhibit, the families are intended to receive the portraits and letters.

“I want them to never be forgotten. I like to use poetry or lyrics to help express the beauty they each had,” said Bowring, who sees an opportunity to ease people’s pain through the work.

Combing newspapers, magazines and the Internet, she selected a photograph of each person and scanned it into her computer. Using the Adobe Photoshop software, she used an electronic brush to push pixels around – just like paint, she said of the process she calls “artography.” The idea is to soften the photographic reality of each image and create a more ethereal, watercolor feel. Still, she strives to get the face, the eyes, the smile exactly right. She printed the portraits onto canvas and sometimes touched up the final product with real paint and a brush.

The 49 portraits are on display during business hours in the 4th-floor lobby of the County Administration Building, 1 Courthouse Square in Kissimmee.

Click here to read the related press release