The Empathy Project – MULLEN

Markel Girty
Nickalas Lee
Brooks Mullen
Jimmie Lee Penn, Sr. and Jamie LeVar Penn, Sr.


Artist statement by Jane Gabrielle

Brooks Mullen’s family spin a loving tale of a young woman who was smart and independent, an old soul who would fight for the “underdog”.  She loved nature, music and sunflowers and was described as a “ray of sunshine”.  

Brooks was murdered by her landlord, on a cold January night in 2022.  She was 23 years old.  The man that allegedly took her life was suffering from some mental illness.  Indeed, in the aftermath, before his arrest, he talked of having visions of Brooks in an antique mirror in the apartment.

In this mural, I have placed Brooks in an antique mirror framed in Dogwood blossoms.  This flower means rebirth and hope.  Mirrors, in many cultures, represent a sacred object with the power to reveal truth.  She is clothed in a gown of her favorite color; purple.  In the painting, Brooks walks into a field of sunflowers turning her big, blue eyes to the viewer with a knowing look as though reassuring everything is alright.  She says her customary farewell, “I’ll love you ‘til the sun dies!”  In the mirror steam the words “daughter” and “sister” appear harkening back to the tight circle of a mother and her two daughters.

I used a frame of birds.  As mother and daughter celebrated what would have been Brooks 24th birthday, birds exploded into the air as they blew out the candles.  They felt this was a sign from Brooks.