In the wake of the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, local resident Chimene Hurst felt the need to respond and reached out to longtime friend and mural artist, Michael Pilato, to devise a plan. Michael and his painting partner Yuriy Karabash enthusiastically embraced the opportunity, and a journey began to humanize the tragedy through the understanding of personal stories of pain, loss and heroic positive response. With the blessing of their existing collaborators, they turned their attention to Central Florida. Soon after, their supporting organization, Public Art Academy, launched an initiative to provide healing and inspiration based in the communities surrounding Orlando.
With an open-ended relocation, Michael and Yuriy joined Chimene and a growing team of supporters. Together they began to reach out to the families of victims, survivors and community leaders both local and national. Within weeks of their arrival, an initial concept of the mural was formed and a painting study began to capture the essence of participants. All the while, plans evolved as more elements were added to the potential experience including multiple art locations from Central Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico and beyond; an educational curriculum to support children through grief to empowerment; a documentary movie; and an interactive augmented reality app.
The team is collaborating with local officials, related organizations and a growing network of like-minded individuals who are expanding their vision of spreading love and hope as the best response to life’s difficult circumstances and events.