A group of 49 artists from across the country have come together to pay their respects to the victims of Pulse by painting portraits and giving them as gifts to the victims’ family members. 

Armstrong State University professor Mia Merlin started the project after being inspired by a similar portrait project for the families of the nine victims killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina in June 2015. 

“As an artist, the ability to make a portrait for someone is one of the most clear and powerful ways I have to give,” Merlin said. “I knew that other artists would feel the same way.” 

Each portrait is painted in a style unique to the artist — giving each piece a special personality so that every victim is highlighted. Before the portraits are given to the families, they will be on display at Orlando City Hall’s Terrace Gallery from May 1 to June 14. 

“The portraits allow us to see each life shine, to process loss, and maybe over time to start to heal,” Merlin said. “For the families, I hope that the portraits help them feel connected to their loved ones. But the portraits also allow for the living to connect with each other here and now.” 

For more information on the gallery, or if you want to view the portraits online, visit http://www.49portraits.com.