February 16, 2017

The Port: PAMM Teaching Artist Chire Regans Brings Healing to Families of Gun Violence Victims

PAMM Teaching Artist Chire Regans is a visual artist and activist, who uses her artistic gifts as a tool to raise social awareness and create a dialogue about issues affecting us all. Part of PAMM's Art Detectives program, Regans uses her role as an artist is to unite the community through expression.

Reporter Michael Spears gives NBC 6 viewers a look at how Regans brings healing to families affected by gun violence through art. 

Gun violence has affected countless people in the South Florida community. A local woman is using art to raise awareness which is providing healing to families of gun violence victims.

"I think about all the people that loved them," said artist Chire Regans.

From a blank canvass, the outline of a face takes shape with every stroke.

"I felt like all of these stories are important because a lot of people in the community don't really know what's going on in the community."

Chire Regans is an artist. Her work includes the portraits of men, women and children who have died by guns in South Florida.

"A lot of people are forgotten in a sense."

It began nearly year ago.

"It was right after King Carter was killed," said Regans.

When the 6-year-old was shot to death.

"I just picked up some paper and started to draw."

Since then -- Chire, known professionally as Vanta Black, has drawn more than 100 portraits -- some of them featured in local art shows.

"As an artist I have a responsibility to address issues that aren't necessarily highlighted as much as they need to be."

But her work has also helped families heal and cope with the grief of losing a loved one. Serena Harrell's 15-year-old son, James Solomon, was shot to death while attending a wake last year. His killer was never found.

"Not only is she acknowledging victims of gun violence but she's touching mothers. What she's doing is so important because people can place a face to this," said Harrell.

Chire says she's found her purpose and hopes her work will help open up a dialogue on gun violence to inspire positive change.

“If I have talent, I have to use it for good, raising awareness, getting people to come and want to, want to say ok, how do we address this?," said Chire.

The artist will be showing her portraits at the Jazz in the Gardens Festival in March.

About Chire Regans
Chire Regans headshot
Chire Regans "VantaBlack,"  was born in Saint Louis, Missouri and lived there until her family relocated to Miami in the late 1980's. Crime was out of control in Saint Louis and Miami was viewed as a refuge of sorts by her mother. Her passion for art began soon after. After graduating from Florida A&M University, Regans began to focus primarily on drawing from life and portraiture. As societal issues began to weigh heavily on her conscience, a message took shape behind the imagery. The emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement pushed Regans' art in the direction of social awareness and change. In late February of 2016, a number of young people became victims of an ongoing epidemic of gun violence in Miami-Dade County. Driven by emotion and the need to bring awareness to this epidemic, Regans began a series of memorial portraits of victims of violence in Miami-Dade County and beyond. This series which Regans categorizes as Social Commentary Art, began with five portraits and now includes over 100 portraits of victims, and their stories.