Terrace Gallery at Orlando City Hall
The 49 Portraits Project was born out of a need to respond in a meaningful, respectful and loving way to the tragic events at the LGBTQ Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016. The project was started by Georgia art professor Mia Merlin, who teaches at Armstrong State University in Savannah, Georgia. She was inspired by a similar portrait project for the families of the nine victims of the June 2015 shootings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The 49 Portraits Project is made up of a group of 49 artists across the country who created portraits to honor the innocent Pulse nightclub victims and to give as gifts to their families. CITYOFORLANDO.NET/ARTS TERRACE GALLERY ● THE MAYOR’S GALLERY ● GARDEN HOUSE GALLERY AT HARRY P. LEU GARDENS Merlin states: “As an artist, the ability to make a portrait for someone is one of the most clear and powerful ways I have to give. I knew that other artists would feel the same way.” She continues, “And the portraits offer that same gift to all viewers, to see more fully and to feel more acutely what a life means. The portraits allow us to see each life shine, to process loss, and maybe over time to start to heal. For the families, I hope that the portraits help them feel connected to their loved ones. But the portraits also allow for the living to connect with each other here and now. This connection has happened between the project artists, between the artists and the families, and with the help of this exhibit, it will extend out into the community and world. These portraits transcend politics, and strip away everything but what is essential. Each of us is so grateful to be able to make this offering, and to have it received by each of you.”