Artist draws attention to cases of missing women with vibrant murals

By Web Staff

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    CHICAGO, Illinois (WBBM) -- It's art with a purpose. Damon Lamar Reed has spent the past year creating vibrant murals of Black women and girls who have been missing from the Chicago area for some decades.

One of them is Jerrica Laws, who has been missing now for six years. Her loved ones are still searching and hoping.

The murals will be on display inside the Cultural Arts Center for two months.

Basing the murals off family photos, the artist uses bright hues and distinct lines in an effort to honor the women and girls who have been missing.

Laws was 20 years old when she vanished without a trace.

"It just hurts so bad," said Shantinel Howard, as she struggled to find words after getting a glimpse of her daughter's mural. "I just got overwhelmed looking at her picture back there and how talented Damon is to capture her."

Reed has painted 16 missing Black women and girls.

"It's called the Learning Lab, so I'm, in a sense, kind of giving people information, informing them about the Still Searching Project," he said.

Detectives with the Cook County Sheriff's Office were at the display passing out flyers of numerous women whoa re still missing.

"I just want to help raise awareness," Reed said. "Some of these cases people haven't talked about in years."

Laws went missing Aug. 16, 2015.

"It's just heartbreaking," her mother said. "Jerrica has been missing for over six years."

She said Jerrica went out for a walk, which she did daily, but this time she didn't return home and hasn't since.

"The more time goes by, the more I feel like I'm not going to find her," Howard said. "And I really don't know where to begin to start over, to look for her."

She said these past years have been an emotional rollercoaster.

"Sometimes you're up and sometimes you're really down. My heart aches all the time," she said.

Howard said detectives with the sheriff's office and Park Forest Police Department spoke with her in February, letting her know the FBI is now involved.

Howard said she has not gotten any updates on her case but is still hopeful her daughter is still out there.

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