Louisville artist uses her talent to help gun violence victims heal

Posted at 3:08 PM, Jan 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-07 15:08:32-05

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18/WAVE) — A Louisville artist is helping gun violence victims in a unique way.

Jaylin Stewart, a Louisville artist who says she grew up around gun violence herself, began painting portraits of the victims she knew to help herself cope. Now, Stewart uses the stroke of her paint brush to help others.

"I've been affected by gun violence my entire life,” Stewart told WAVE.

Stewart began painting in high school around the time she lost her cousin and two best friends to gun violence.

"When I lose people that are supporting me it just hurts," Stewart said.

Stewart says said she has lost count of how many victims she has painted but knows she's painted hundreds. Stewart also said she knew at least half of the people she's brushed onto a canvas, according to WAVE.

"A lot of places where these crimes happened, these neighborhoods, different areas, is where I spent my early teens and childhood," Stewart noted. They get younger and younger every time I paint them."

Robin'Dion O'Bryant dreamed of joining the National Guard and then becoming a federal prosecutor. Those dreams were shattered when she was shot and killed by a former elementary school classmate before she even turned 18.

Before Linda Gibson, O'Bryant's mother, walked into Stewart's studio, the last picture she had of her daughter was in a casket. When she went to Stewart's studio, she was brought to tears when she saw an image that Stewart recreated of her daughter.

"When I say this embodies everything from the smile, her eyes, her eyebrow, her hair, everything,” said Gibson.

According to Gibson, her daughter's spirit showed through the piece of art that Stewart created.

"I'm living through my trauma working through my trauma,” Stewart said.

Stewart gives each of the completed portraits to victims’ families. She will be showing her work at the Flux Gallery on Feb. 8 and hosting a solo show in the summer.