See memorials in Uvalde and across Texas that honor victims of Robb Elementary shooting

Friday marks two years since the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen students and two teachers were murdered in what the U.S. Justice Department described as top-to-bottom "cascading failures" by law enforcement that combined to make the shooting one of the worst in history.

As the families involved and the community reflect, people find ways to grieve. Many choose to use art.

Over the past two years, groups in Uvalde and throughout Texas have created memorials to honor those victims.

21 Uvalde murals of Robb Elementary victims

Abel Ortiz Acosta, a resident and educator in Uvalde, collaborated with Monica Maldonado, the founder of the Austin-based nonprofit MAS Cultura, to organize a three-month project incorporating storytelling into artwork. Together, they created 21 murals for the Healing Uvalde project, each commemorating a victim of the Robb Elementary shooting by telling their story.

“We know that art heals,” Maldonado told the Austin American-Statesman, part of the USA TODAY Network. “We wanted to use that to help this community heal but also show solidarity and be in unity with Uvalde. There is no doubt in my mind that this is part of their healing journey, and for many families we hope this lets them know that their kids and teachers matter and they won’t be forgotten.”

(Click menu icon at top left of map to see full list of murals)

Crosses memorialize victims of Uvalde school shooting

Shortly after the May 2022 shooting, makeshift memorials were placed at Uvalde's town square and Robb Elementary School.

At the school are 22 crosses for each of the victims and Joe Garcia, the husband of slain teacher Irma Garcia, who died of a heart attack shortly after the shooting.

Crosses dedicated to the 21 victims of the 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary are placed in front of the school on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Uvalde, Texas.
Crosses dedicated to the 21 victims of the 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary are placed in front of the school on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Uvalde, Texas.

Crosses with messages, photos, flowers and other keepsakes still sit around the fountain at the town square.

Uvalde Love Project creates hand-crafted mosaic mural

The Uvalde Love Project was founded by Austin art therapist Wanda Montemayor, fellow Austin art therapists and teachers from Uvalde. The project was designed to bring the healing community closer together after the tragedy, in what Montemayor and her team hoped would aid in the grieving process. Thousands of volunteers contributed handmade tiles to the project.

"That personal connection and that feeling of safety is where the healing begins, and it's the collectiveness," Montemayor told the American-Statesman. "It's not that 'I'm alone in these feelings.' It's like 'I'm with you and you and you, and we're on the same feeling together'... not being alone in your head with these feelings."

21 benches made for victims of Robb Elementary School shooting

Georgia native Sean Peacock went through his own personal tragedies and found a way to grieve his loss after losing his sister. To honor the children who were killed in Uvalde, Peacock carved butterfly-shaped benches for the families of the victims, each featuring a child’s image.

According to 41NBC/WMGT, Peacock took a U-Haul to Texas to hand deliver the benches to families.

A memorial built for Uvalde more than 200 miles away

In Riviera, Texas, Lupe Aguilar — a pastor of Community Baptist Church — built a wall dedicated to the victims of Uvalde. Aguilar has no formal connection to Uvalde.

“It can happen in any community," Aguilar told KENS 5. "In my mind, in my heart, I had a feeling something needed to be done. Something needed to be built for the children, in memory of the children in Uvalde and their parents."

Contributing: Hannah Ortega

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Memorials in Uvalde and across Texas honor school shooting victims