Orlando, Fla. — An art gallery filled with photos, quilts and paintings dedicated to the victims killed in the Pulse terror attack is just one of the ways the University of Central Florida remembered and honored the 49 lives lost nearly a year ago.
The art gallery commemorates the one year anniversary of the Pulse tragedy by featuring work that celebrates the lives of the victims and showcase the themes remembrance, resilience and resistance.
Members of the Orlando community and UCF students were invited to participate in the exhibit. One UCF student says she still remembers the day she found out about the shooting at Pulse.
“Next thing I know I see all these notifications saying I’m safe, I’m safe and I saw the news and I think I just kind of shut down,” she said.
The art gallery is named Resilience: Remembering Pulse and this UCF student says resilience is exactly what the Orlando community had after the Pulse attack.
“I really love Orlando so much and I love how everyone came together after what happened. When you see people come together for support like that especially the tens of thousands that did it helps bring back hope.”
Jen Vargas is an Angel Action Wings volunteer who became an Angel in response to the attack on Pulse. Her work is featured in the exhibit and she recalls how she felt after the Pulse terror attack.
“I remember being terrified… the fact that someone could target not only LGBTQ people and straight people as well as just a club where people were having fun just broke my heart,” Vargas said.
Despite struggling to make sense of the tragedy Vargas reflects on how the community has come together after the attack.
“If there were a silver lining of this whole thing, it’s that it really brought us all together,” Vargas said.
Perhaps one of the most special pieces of artwork Vargas has to remember Pulse is the one that she wears on her skin. She has a rainbow pulse tattoo on her wrist and she said it symbolizes her alliance with the LGBTQ community.
“As an ally I call this sealing my contract. I have their back,” Vargas said.
Vargas’s artwork and the many other paintings, photographs, quilts and stories collected for the exhibit illustrate the community’s resilience, dedication to remembering those lost and power to resist violence.