Tag Archives: Jess Hernandez

Jess Hernandez

23 May

Meet Jess, a Mom from Uvalde

This past year, Jess Hernandez has become a very special person in my life. I value our friendship greatly, but I wish our paths had never crossed. We only met because Jess’s daughter Alithia Haven was murdered at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on May 24 last year, along with 18 of her classmates and two of her teachers.

Immediately after the shooting I created a social media campaign in response, illustrating each of the victims. Scroll back in my Instagram to see.

Alithia’s dad, Ryan Ramirez, commented on my post about Alithia. The following day, I was listening to Anderson Cooper report on the tragedy. He interviewed Ryan, who described Alithia as an artist.

I drew Alithia again, as an artist this time. The inspiration for a picture book biography about Alithia popped into my head shortly after. I Zoomed with Ryan and Jess, who agreed to allow me to write and illustrate a picture book about their beautiful little artist. They told me all about Alithia, all about her exuberant spirit, her enormous heart, and her talent and drive to become a professional artist.

Alithia Ramirez Was an Artist, published by Michael Sampson Books, will be in bookstores on Oct 10, 2024, and is already available for preorder online. All author proceeds go directly into an art scholarship in Alithia’s honor.

Many of Alithia’s drawings and paintings—all provided by Jess via email—are incorporated into my illustrations. (Click here to see a whole bunch of Alithia’s original art.) From the start of our email friendship, Jess has been open about what she has endured since the tragedy. For example, as you can probably imagine, Jess has a difficult time being around schools. She is triggered by elementary schools, but she has two small children and cannot avoid them. On top of this, she is terrified for the safety of her children when they are at school. Just think about that, about the daily stress this mother has to endure because of the trauma she suffered as a result of Alithia’s murder.

Jess has graciously agreed to allow me to share some of her own words:

Everyday has been a struggle for me. I’m always tired where I just can’t get out of bed, I cry everyday because just having flashbacks from May 24th and it just hurts me to know that my reality is every parent’s nightmare. I still can’t believe that this is my life now and that I lost Alithia because of gun violence. I always had my children close and made sure they are safe and I couldn’t save Alithia. People that say they want to be my support but they aren’t because when I bring up anything about my daughter and why she isn’t here they just ignore me, and that’s not support. This is my reality and people need to know there is no forgetting about it because it will always be with me.

Jess Hernandez

Forever Broken

I created these images of Jess and Ryan as part of a recent social media campaign against gun violence.

Jess has often stated that she is broken and will never be the same—and she is one of a huge and growing group of family members left behind in America because of gun violence. I will never understand why Americans have not come together en masse to demand a common-sense solution to the VERY OBVIOUS problem of gun violence within their borders. The US is only as safe as the state with the weakest gun laws.

End Gun Violence

Jess has been creating art to help herself move through her grief, including this powerful “End Gun Violence” poster. Soon, Alithia’s Art Angels will host an End Gun Violence poster contest for all kids 18 and under. Gift certificates for art supplies will be awarded. Follow Alithia’s Art Angels on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so you won’t miss the announcement!

And follow Jess Hernandez on Facebook and Instagram.