San Antonio teacher, artist honors slain Robb Elementary teacher in mural portrait series ‘Healing Uvalde’

Sandra González hopes mural will bring peace to families in Uvalde

SAN ANTONIO – Eva Mireles’ life was cut short at Robb Elementary School on May 24. She was one of two teachers killed in the shooting. Mireles is survived by her husband, Ruben Ruiz, and her daughter, Adalynn Ruiz.

Recently, Adalynn shared with local artist Sandra Gonzalez what her mother loved most.

“I was told, you know, her favorite color was lavender, light yellow,” González said. “She loved CrossFit. She loved hiking in the mountains… She was a really happy person, (with) a wonderful, soul.”

González applied to be considered as a portrait muralist for the Healing Uvalde Mural Project funded and organized by the nonprofit MAS Culture, Art Lab-Uvalde and Collectors Of Chicano/Latinx Art and Allies.

“I have been an artist for about 20 years now, like, almost like my entire life,” González said. “I’m very passionate about public art.”

“I requested to paint a portrait of Eva Mireles,” González said.

As an educator herself, González identified most with the two slain teachers.

“I was devastated when I heard about the shooting in Uvalde, especially being the last week of school,” said González, who is an art teacher at Roosevelt High School in San Antonio. “I just looked around in my classroom and my students and, you know, it was hard to finish the school year.”

González hopes her artistic depiction of Mireles brings peace to the community of Uvalde.

“I really hope it can bring a little bit of closure and some positive light, you know, into their lives,” González said.

In the mural, Mireles is surrounded by colorful flowers, smiling as she stretches her arms holding two flags.

“She’s holding the flags and one of them says ‘Always Strong’ and the other one says ‘CrossFit’,” González said.

Mireles’ dark hair is pushed over her shoulder. The purple and orange hues that color the mountains in the background of the mural warm Mireles’ face.

“For me, it represents her strength, you know, her passion for life,” González said.

It has been nonstop painting for González.

“Yesterday I painted for 11 hours,” she said. “There are times where I just get emotional because I think this is really powerful. And as an artist, I just feel humble about it, you know, that we can make a difference.”

González has scaled the 18-by-30-foot mural onto pieces of polytap material or non-woven fabric. This has allowed for the mural to be painted inside. Over the weekend, it will be glued to a wall using an acrylic gel.

“It gets installed like a wallpaper,” González said. “So, it is really convenient because I was able to have people come to my studio at home and help me.”

González’s official assistants for the Mireles mural are Malachy McKinney and April Dawn Ceja. Her volunteers include Ruth Hui, Anabell Thomas, Rorie Walker, Sage Muniz and Mayra Jischke.

Other lead portrait artists from San Antonio include Ana Laura Fernández and Christina Sosa Noriega.

González will need help from additional volunteers for paint touch-ups on Sunday, beginning at approximately 2 p.m. Volunteers can meet at the Henry D. Osso building located at 114 E. Nopal in Uvalde.

To connect with González on social media, click here.

About the Authors

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.

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