Homicide hits home, inspires University of Saint Francis Fort Wayne art student’s work

Jaliyah Rice stands between two of her large paintings related to the homicide of a relative of her fiance Sunday in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fort Wayne's Langhinrichs Gallery, 5310 Old Mill Road. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Jaliyah Rice's fiance and daughter look at her "9's a Gang" on Sunday in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fort Wayne's Langhinrichs Gallery, 5310 Old Mill Road. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
"The Dark Cloud That Follows Me in My Home" by Jaliyah Rice depicts a chandelier of bullets. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
Jaliyah Rice's "In Memory of. No. 4" and several other oil paintings depicting gun violence are on display through April 1 at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fort Wayne's Langhinrichs Gallery, 5310 Old Mill Road.
A man looks at one of Jaliyah Rice's painting related to gun violence Sunday in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fort Wayne's Langhinrichs Gallery, 5310 Old Mill Road. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)
One of the subjects in Jaliyah Rice's "9's a Gang" is seen Sunday in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fort Wayne's Langhinrichs Gallery, 5310 Old Mill Road. (Photo by Lisa M. Esquivel Long of News-Sentinel.com)

The face is nearly there. Blotches of yellow paint blur her features in the portrait with a gold halo effect around her head.

Jaliyah Rice’s “In Memory of. No. 4” and several other oil paintings are on display through April 1 at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fort Wayne’s Langhinrichs Gallery, 5310 Old Mill Road.

Several of Rice’s pieces are inspired by the 2015 shooting death of her fiance’s stepsister, Alonna Allison, 17, was struck by a bullet in the crossfire between rival gangs in August 2015 at a bonfire party on Schaper Drive. She was a junior at Concordia Lutheran High School and a member of the school’s girls basketball team.

“It was kind of a wrong place, wrong time,” said Rice, who just turned 23. “She was not gang-affiliated.”

The portraits in her series resemble the subject and are “a memory, we get an image of them,” she said, like an image in our mind that fades over time.

One of two large paintings that Rice created during a semester at USF, where she’s studying studio art, is of “the street (Allison) was killed on. I took out the street name because it could be any street.”

One painting that could create strong emotion shows the torso of a man, a handgun in his pocket, holding a child.

“I put the child’s foot so close the gun to make you uncomfortable,” Rice said.

It can be read as the father putting his child in danger or protecting the youngster, she said.

Small paintings depict bullet casings while hanging over a table is a chandelier with tiers of bullets that Rice calls “The Dark Cloud That Follows Me in My Home.”

“They’re hanging over you,” she said.

A piece not depicting gun violence serves as a metaphor for African American in the justice system. “9’s a Gang” shows mugshots of various pit bulls, some with eyes closed or tongues hanging out as if waiting to be petted, with a height chart behind each one.

“They represent African Americans and how they’re viewed,” Rice said. “They’re seen as an aggressive breed and discriminated against.”

Gallery hours

WHAT: Jaliyah Rice’s paintings and Christine Lussier’s pottery

WHEN: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, or by appointment through April 1.

WHERE: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fort Wayne’s Langhinrichs Gallery, 5310 Old Mill Road

FOR MORE: Call 260-744-1867 or see Rice’s Instagram art page at @artby_jaliyah

COMMENTS