AUSTIN (CBSNewsTexas.com) - Painting to protest for peace, Dallas artist Roberto Marquez has wasted no time traveling as close as he could get to the suffering felt by those directly impacted by the Israel-Hamas war.
Following Hamas' Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel, which killed more than 1,400 people, Marquez watched as the war in Gaza intensified. One month later, the death toll from Israel's response in the Gaza Strip has exceeded 10,300 people, according to the Palestinian territory's Hamas-run Ministry of Health. The ministry said more than 4,200 of the dead in Gaza are children, and about 1,300 more children are believed to be buried under the rubble of destroyed buildings.
"My goal is to to save at least one life in Gaza, if that doesn't happen, then being a shoulder for someone in pain to cry on will be as satisfying," shared Marquez. "My intention of saving someone from dying is to also motivate others to take action to better the situation."
The self-taught artist went to the Rafah Border Crossing in October to protest the war. It's the sole crossing point between Egypt and the Gaza Strip and is controlled and operated by Egyptian authorities, with Hamas also exercising control over who can pass through.
"My intention was to get to Rafah's border to serve as volunteer for the Palestinians coming out of Gaza, it was not possible then, but when the opportunity comes l will come back to it, definitely," said Marquez.
On Nov. 3, Marquez created a colorful mural during what some have called the largest U.S. demonstration since the start of the war in Washington, D.C. The artist never takes his work with him, choosing instead to donate it.
"The message from the mural at the protest in D.C., was to bring awareness to the killing's consequences from the Gaza-Israel conflict," shared Marquez.
It's available to any "art entity" who reaches out to Marquez through his Instagram account.
Calling it his, "humanitarian-artistic journey," Marquez is no stranger to tragedy, and has made it his mission to memorialize those who have suffered untimely deaths.
"It is important to mention that art is completely impartial from my point of view. Personally sometimes I take sides l accepted, eventually my deepest sympathies are with reason, truth, justice and common sense," said Marquez.
The muralist flew to Surfside, Florida in 2021 when the Champlain Towers South condominium collapsed—killing 98 people. The following year, he memorialized the 19 children and two teachers murdered in their classrooms at. He was also on-hand after: 53 migrants suffocated in the back of a container truck in San Antonio in 2022, an air show tragedy in Dallas, the mass shooting at Allen Premium Outlets in May, 40 people at a migrant processing center in Ciudad Juárez died in a fire, the war in Ukraine began and a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Kahramanmaras and 10 other provinces in southern Turkey.
Marquez is going to this Sunday's protest at the state capitol is support of the civilians of Gaza. It starts at 1 p.m.
"I will be attending the Austin protest as a follow-up with my purpose to a struggle that is affecting us all," he said.
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