Years after being rescued from captivity, a new mural is being painted in honor of Gina DeJesus

Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 7:07 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A new mural in honor of Gina DeJesus, one of the three women held captive by Ariel Castro, is being painted in Cleveland’s Clark-Fulton neighborhood.

The project is taking shape on the side of a building at the intersection of West 25th Street and Castle Avenue.

“I hope that when other people look at it, they get just as happy as I [do],” DeJesus told 19 News. “I hope it brings some hope that maybe their missing loved one is out there and that one day they will come home too.”

DeJesus, Michelle Knight and Amanda Berry were kidnapped by Castro between 2002 and 2004 and held captive in his Tremont home until 2013, when Berry escaped.

Police rescued DeJesus and Knight hours later.

“I want her to be happy every time she walks out of this building, see herself smiling,” said artist Gisela McDaniel.

This is McDaniel’s specialty.

The Detroit-based painter, who grew up in Cleveland, uses her own experiences with sexual trauma to help other survivors by painting their portraits.

“This is how I was able to heal. I do this project to make people feel beautiful and celebrate resilience and the fact we’re still here doing amazing things,” she said.

The mural’s location is no coincidence. It’s just blocks from the home where the women were held captive for nearly a dozen years.

It’s also near the Cleveland Family Center for Missing Children and Adults, the foundation co-founded by DeJesus in 2018.

“I think it represents hope [and] freedom,” DeJesus said.

The project was made possible through Creative Fusion, an artist residency funded by the Cleveland Foundation.

McDaniel expects to finish by Monday.

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