In March of 2015, one of my closest friends Cortney took her life after struggling with depression. In the days following her death, I installed this mural of her eyes on the side of her home goods store Ró located in Buffalo, New York. About six months later along with her family and friends, we removed the mural in pieces that were eventually used in a bonfire memorial that was held on the one year anniversary of her passing.
"Like the memory of anyone we lose, Collins’ mural will lose its shape and definition over time, obscured by other thoughts and other worries, until eventually its contours wear away and becomes part of the air we breathe. It is a memorial designed to mirror the grieving process itself."
After being prescribed painkillers to manage the pain of Crohn's disease, Michael eventually developed an addiction which led to him taking his life in 2011. His parents Julie and Avi started an organization called Save The Michaels of The World aimed at bringing awareness and support to the opioid addiction crisis occurring around the United States. In 2014, I was brought on board to contribute to the award winning campaign - Painkillers Kill More Than Pain - by working with parents to create murals that memorialized their child.
After the each mural was completed, portraits were taken of the parents in front of the mural which would eventually be used as the imagery for a series of print advertisements for the campaign.
Painkillers Kill More than Pain earned Community Relations Campaign of the Year Award by PRWeek in 2015.
Part of the Painkiller Kills campaign took me into a number of local schools where I collaborated with students to teach workshops to create memorial murals of fellow students who had died after struggling with painkiller addiction. Read more about this mural here.