Mexico, beautiful as it is, has its share of violence. Artist Emiliano Gironella Parra is aware of this, and has found a way to promote empathy for victims and pay homage to heroes.
The internationally renowned artist, born in Mexico City, believes art is a powerful tool that can change the vision held abroad about his country, and inspire radical change within it. His mixed media works shine a spotlight on topics such as violence and social injustice.
Drug trafficking issues have resulted in the death of countless police officers in Mexico. Gironella Parra reached out to the country’s Federal Police Force and felt heartbroken upon discovering that there was no fund or foundation set up to help spouses and children of fallen officers.
In 2011, he created Fundación Manos Manchadas de Pintura (Paint-Stained Hands Foundation), and, through it, offered art workshops for these children. The goal was not only to stimulate their creativity, but also to help them process their tragic stories and come to realize that their parents had been heroes.
In 2017, Gironella Parra’s work was featured in a Los Angeles exhibition, titled Artempatía, a play on words loosely translated as “Empathy Art.” The viewer’s attention was directed toward the brave deceased and the families they left behind.
The reputation of law enforcement authorities in Mexico has been tarnished over the years due to different factors, and Gironella Parra trusts art can be instrumental in reverting this situation. Through art, officers can be perceived as custodians of peace. Their more human side, as family members with hopes, dreams, and responsibilities, can also shine through.
The artist has reached out to the Federal Government in his country, in hopes that his projects might inform public policy. Reconciliation between society and police is possible, and Gironella Parra suggests specific steps to achieve it. These include giving visibility to victims and praising the courage of those who have protected the community and stopped criminals.
At this time, plans are being drawn up for the creation of a special area within the Museo del Policía (Police Museum) in downtown Mexico City. Fueled by Gironella Parra’s ideas and titled Pax, Espacio por la Cultura y la Paz (Pax, a Space for Culture and Peace), it will surely polish the image of deserving officers.