Expression of love exhibited through art in honor of Pulse victims

Exhibit on display at Orange County Regional History Center

An exhibit at the Orange County Regional History Center explores how artists reacted to the Pulse tragedy.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The "Love Speaks" exhibit is a tribute to the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando on June 12, 2016. 

"These are items that were, you know, left for them or have their name or artwork created for them specifically," Jeremy Hileman, One Orlando registrar for Orange County Regional History Center said.

For the third consecutive year, the center opened an exhibit of dozens of pieces and paintings created by local artists and artists from around the country. 

On the three-year mark Wednesday, memorials and blood drives took place to honor victims of the mass shooting.

"We thought, you know, it would be good for the community to show the good side of humanity rather than kind of the worse that was shown at the Pulse nightclub," Hileman said. "You'll find a lot of people connected to the story in many different ways."

Many men and women used art as a way to respond to the pain and suffering the community lived through on June 12, 2016.

Photographer J.D. Casto recalled the sense of urgency he felt once he heard the news.

"I grabbed my bag, you know, I called my family, crying, saying, 'Hey, I'm safe but I'm going to my community now.' It was really a gut reaction of I need to do this," Casto said.

The future of what the Pulse Memorial and Museum will look like now lies in the hands of six teams.

The Ohio native, who has been part of the Orlando community for 13 years, captured the emotion of a community trying to understand why that tragedy happened. One of the images his lens caught was the vigil at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, a night he vaguely remembers. 

"I can recall the image but I cannot tell you at all what was happening before I took that image. I just remember I was there, saw the moment, crouched down and captured it," Casto said. "For me, it's always been that. Capture the human truth. Capture the energy and essentially be the guardian of these memories."

Orange County Regional History Center is open seven days a week. The "Love Speaks" exhibit runs through Sept. 22. 

A Pulse survivor explains his rough road to recovery since the 2016 attack.

About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.