This project has been very special to me. While my heart breaks to see stories like this one unfold, there is always a sort of disconnect between the reality of these people’s lives and the reality of my own. I never met Luis. I don’t even know anyone who knew him. But I spent a long time trying to bridge that disconnect, learning about him and his life through his own media pages and those of his friends. I saw photos of him hugging his friends, participating in a wedding, celebrating a new year. I laughed at a silly video he made and smiled at photos from his younger days before he could grow a beard properly. I even caught myself almost “liking” his posts a few times, forgetting that I don’t know him. But then came the pages full of shock and grief, the moment that went from Luis “is” to Luis “was.” I stared at his face for hours and hours as I painted, trying to know every curve, to represent him in a way that could do honor to the “is” and “was” of this young man and hopefully transform it into something that will forever be. For Luis Vielma will forever be in the hearts and minds of his family, his friends, and countless strangers across the world like me that took a moment to know and love and remember a sweet young life taken from us too soon. Rest in peace, Luis. With love, Vivian.
Vivian Hansen de los Rios is an illustrator and writer from Hurley, Mississippi. Both graduates of SCAD, she and her husband recently founded Two Rivers Creative Studio, where Vivian can focus her simple, lighthearted editorial works as a separate entity from her personal works on canvas, which tend to have a more somber and timeless approach. Her work can be found at www.vivianhansen.com.