“Fighting gun violence through each brush stroke,” New Berlin woman paints 49 Pulse shooting victims

NEW BERLIN -- As many on New Years Eve looked ahead to 2018, a woman from New Berlin took a look back at some of the major events that have impacted our country -- one of them being the Pulse nightclub shooting in June of 2016. Not long after the attack, she started working on a tribute to those who were murdered.

"It will be closure for them, and it will be an opening for me," Joanne Bowring said.

Bowring's kitchen table becomes an art studio when her painting begins.

On June 12th, 2016, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 58 others in a terrorist attack/hate crime inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. After the attack, Bowring began painting the faces of the 49 people who lost their lives that day.

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 15: A prayer service is held for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting at Delaney Street Baptist Church, June 15, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. The shooting at Pulse Nightclub, which killed 49 people and injured 53, is the worst mass shooting in American history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

TOPSHOT - Mourners hold candles while observing a moment of silence during a vigil outside the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for the mass shooting victims at the Pulse nightclub June 13, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. The American gunman who launched a murderous assault on a gay nightclub in Orlando was radicalized by Islamist propaganda, officials said Monday, as they grappled with the worst terror attack on US soil since 9/11. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)


"I wanted them to be smiling. I wanted them to reflect what their life probably was like -- instead of how it ended," Bowring said.

The 49 paintings are being hung in a courthouse in Kissimmee, Florida -- displayed in public for the community to remember and grieve.

"And as I started to look at their faces, just like I did with Sandy Hook, when I saw those little faces in the newspaper -- I was completely compelled," Bowring said.

It took her a year to research, compose, paint and send off for show  all 49 paintings. Each is unique and includes a picture of one of the victim, their name and song lyrics describing their character. A letter from the artist is attached -- meant for the victim's family.

"I am fighting against gun violence through each pencil line and brush stroke, and it is my honor to do these," Bowring said.

Giving life through a paintbrush to those who had their lives taken too soon. As we look ahead to 2018, Bowring said she hopes people will look back at the past and find ways to make tomorrow brighter.

Again, all 49 of these paintings are currently on display at the Osceola County Courthouse in Kissimee, Florida.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Bowring's artwork.