While I was working as the Art Director of the MIYO Teen Center, I befriended a 17 year old named Emmanuel, Memin for short. He was a sweet overweight kid who seemed to be friends with everyone. Memin told me stories of the two gangs that were trying to jump him. Once he came in to the center upset because he had passed out at a party and someone tattooed his hand with the three dots. He did not want to be in a gang, so I took him to get the tattoo removed. This bonded us.
So months later when Memin missed a few days at the center I was concerned. I asked around and heard he had the flu. A day later I found out that Memin had died. His father took him to the Doctor and was told that he had the flu. He was told to go home and drink lots of fluid, to which he drank a ton of Snapple. After he died it was discovered that he had un-diagnosed Diabetes.
We held the memorial at the Teen Center. During the course of the memorial I was approached by several of Memin’s friends who wanted to create something in memory of their friend. Within a few days I had purchased a 30 x 17 foot canvas sail from a boat builder. Over the coarse of a year I worked with 15 of Memin’s friends to paint this mural. I designed an oasis for the kids to add to There is an Aztec temple, dragon, the earth, sun and palm trees with the faces of heroes. Memin’s face is a coconut in the lower left. Every kid contributed something. whether it was a shell or a bird each kid poured their heart into the loving memory of their friend.
Every Thursday evening, Memin’s father would come to watch us paint and feed us authentic Mexican food. The mural was finished a year after his death and we held a dedication ceremony.