Credit Bob Metelus
MIAMI — Wielding a paint roller like a cudgel in a video seen by 2.1 million people, Manuel Oliver quickly — almost angrily — imprints his message on the mural in wide, black strokes: “We Demand a Change.”
In the middle of the mural is a portrait of his son, Joaquin Oliver, one of the 17 victims of the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last month, wearing a black woolen hat and a slight smile.
For Mr. Oliver, an artist and photographer who has lived for 14 years in Coral Springs, Fla., near the school, painting the mural on Saturday in a pop-up gallery in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood was his first act as what he calls a “graphic activist,” a position he has adopted in the wake of the killings.
Credit Bob Metelus
“Now I have a new role and I’m going to play that role until the end,” Mr. Oliver said in a telephone interview on Monday. “The role is to support the agenda of the kids who are demanding answers to what’s going on,” he said, referring to demonstrations by Parkland survivors and others in which they call for stronger controls on guns.
Video by ABC Television Stations
The mural was part of an exhibition, titled “Parkland 17” and set up in an otherwise empty warehouse, that was dedicated to the memory of the victims. It included 14 empty school desks with the names and ages of each dead student, two desks signifying teaching staff members, and a patch of grass with painted football-field lines, in honor of the school’s assistant football coach. There was also a phone booth from which callers could contact their elected representatives. The exhibition, assembled by the artist Evan Pestaina, was initially intended to last only two days — Saturday and Sunday, for a total of 17 hours — but because of “overwhelming demand” it will reopen this weekend, the curator, Calyann Barnett, said.
“We might add to it for this weekend,” she said. “Some other family members might want to hang something. Maybe they had kids who were going to college and the parents may want to hang the school colors, that sort of thing. The parents could bring their acceptance letters or anything they want to share.”