Artist paints mural in Cleveland as part of national tour to help end gun violence, comfort families of victims

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — A new mural in Ohio City is part of an artist’s national quest to transform public art into gun violence awareness and, hopefully, solutions to what he calls a national epidemic.

Kyle Holbrook, who said he’s personally lost 45 friends and family members to gun violence, painted the 7″ by 4″ ‘Peace Cleveland’ mural at West 25th Street and Chatham Avenue. It shows a hand making a peace sign with the words “Peace. Stop gun violence.”

So far, he’s painted the mural in 67 different cities in 40 states as part of his national Stop Gun Violence Tour. He’s aiming to paint the murals in all 50 states.

They’re meant to be a means of healing for himself and the families of victims.

Holbrook, who grew up in the Pittsburgh area, was 14 when gun violence first touched his life. Two of his friends were shot to death just months apart.

“Since then I’ve lost different best friends, some family members at different times in my life,” said Holbrook. “And now it’s been three decades. I’ve supressed these feelings and emotions and trauma for so many years. But now I’m using the murals as a therapy for myself and hope there’s some form of thereapy that’s healing in some small way for the families of the victims so that they know that their loved ones are not forgotten.”

The murals are also meant to spur change.

“I wanted to really utilize the power of public art to draw attention to this social issue so it will bring it to the forefront of people’s minds,” he said. “The more people who think about the problem of gun violence the more opportunities we have to come up with some solutions.”

As for the design itself, the hand has special meaning.

“It’s the hands that are using the gun to perpetuate this gun violence, and it’s almost like my friends are speaking through me through the hands and throwing up a peace symbol, and I’m doing the artwork with my hands,” he said.

The Cleveland mural is right next to a large ‘Welcome to Cleveland mural’. Holbrook said he tries to choose a prominent location so “people from all walks of life can see it. So people know it’s an issue for all of Cleveland.”

The tour is sponsored by Moving Lives of Kids Community Mural Project, which he started. The organization offers mentorships, employment and other opportunities for youth.

Holbrook now lives in Miami. But he’s very familiar with Cleveland after visiting friends here and researching cities for his tour.

His work isn’t just here in the United States. Holbrook has created hundreds of murals in 43 countries.

As far as the Stop Gun Violence Tour, he’ll make stops later in the year in states like Alaska and South Dakota. When he’s done, he’ll have painted murals in all 50 states.

To learn more about Holbrook and the project, click here.

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