LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Six paintings hang on the walls of Sojourn Community Church, the streaks of paint on canvas forming six faces. But behind the brushstrokes are names and stories - cut short.
“Six homicides in one neighborhood in one year is absurd," Jaylin Stewart said.
The hands behind these pieces of art belong to Stewart, an artist painting scenes from the Shelby Park neighborhood, where the six people in his paintings were killed in 2016, victims of gun violence.
"I used to cry. I used to cry every time I did one because it's just like when the painting was done, it was just so real," she said.
Stewart herself is no stranger to the tragedy of gun violence, having lost family and friends. She said she started using her brushes to paint the victims as a form of self-therapy - a method that she now shares with others in mourning.
"It was her brother. She rubbed his face," Stewart said, recounting an instance where she gave the sister of a murder victim a portrait. "She rubbed it and she kissed all over the painting as if he was there with her."
"I recognize a lot of these," Louisville Metro Police Officer Tate Mason said, looking at the paintings. "Yeah, I was here for three or four of them."
Mason has seen his share of gun violence working the streets of Shelby Park. He said responding to gun violence deaths never gets easier even after several years on the job.
"Why is there gun violence? Why are kids growing up thinking guns are cool or this is acceptable?" Mason asked.
"This is a problem that our community does need to deal with," Stewart said.
Saturday evening, Stewart, Tate and others gathered at the church, holding a discussion to try to understand the problem with gun violence, looking for solutions on how to bring peace to their neighborhood.
"I hope it gets to the point where I will never have to paint another homicide or a homicide victim or some victim of violence," Stewart said.
Her wish: a future where her brushstrokes no longer create portraits of sadness, but scenes of love and joy in Shelby Park.
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