The mural painted by Milton Coronado in honor of slain 19-year old Marlen Ochoa-Lopez now includes her son, Yovanny Jodiel Ochoa. On Saturday, June 22, Coronado returned to the corner of 16th Street and Newberry Avenue in the Chicago neighborhood of Pilsen to paint the image of the baby in the arms of Jesus.
When asked what led him to paint baby Yovanny, Coronado recalled a conversation he had had with Marlen’s father. Before the baby passed, Marlen’s father asked Coronado if he could paint the baby as well. Coronado responded, “I would, if something tragic were to happen, but I hope I don’t have to because we hope for a miracle.” Marlen’s father agreed, and they left it at that.
On June 14, baby Yovanny passed away, and immediately, emails and messages came flooding in. “I didn’t want to initially, for a few reasons,” Coronado admitted. “I felt like people would see me as just capitalizing off this situation. The other reason was because the only picture I had of the baby, he was intubated. I didn’t have a good picture of him to use as a reference,” Coronado said. The only pictures ever taken of baby Yovanny are of him attached to life support. He was brain dead in the hospital for seven weeks before he died.
After praying about it and sketching ideas, Coronado decided how he would paint the addition to the mural. “It is not an exact image of him, but it’s a reference to him in the arms of Jesus,” Coronado explained.
While painting, a young lady approached Coronado and told him of the time she lost her baby, a couple years earlier. The image brought tears to her eyes, and gave her hope and peace. She thanked Coronado, gave him a hug and asked to take a picture with him.
“The response has been awesome,” Coronado said. “Even better than the first half of the mural. People feel closure, and at peace. The community really wanted it.” Upon completion, Coronado recalled the applause from a crowd of people who had gathered to watch him paint.
In the aftermath of tragedies such as the murder of Marlen Ochoa-Lopez and her baby, it can be easy to get discouraged and lose hope. Coronado has neither lost hope, nor his message. “My message is that the city will unite in love and hope. That will require organizations, schools, community leaders, government officials and churches.” After a brief pause, Coronado concluded, “Churches, we need to be more relevant, and more open to issues that young people are dealing with nowadays. That’s really my strongest desire. As a Christian, as a lay pastor, as an artist, as a citizen of the city [of Chicago] — that these entities come together and make that happen.”
Elijah Horton is a Chicago-based freelance writer. This article originally appeared on the Lake Union Herald website and is reprinted here with permission.
Images: The mural painted by Milton Coronado in honor of slain 19-year old Marlen Ochoa-Lopez now includes her son, Yovanny Jodiel Ochoa. On Saturday, June 22, Coronado returned to paint the image of the baby in the arms of Jesus. Photos by Milton Coronado, courtesy of the Lake Union Herald.
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