Orlando Shooting Inspires Montclair Artist

Montclair artist Jessica Sporn created a t-shirt emblazoned with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s message of love. Proceeds will benefit the Florida LGBT community.

Many viewers of the Tony Awards last Sunday night were inspired by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s poetic tribute to the victims of the mass shooting earlier that day at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Montclair artist Jessica Sporn took that inspiration and did what artists do: She turned it into art.

Sporn was devastated by the shooting, coming after so many other shootings. “On Monday I just felt so drained and exhausted by the sadness of it all, and so I thought, I don’t feel inspired to do anything else but create some art around this,” she tells njmonthly.com.

The result was a watercolor piece using Miranda’s words: “Love cannot be killed or swept aside.”  She posted the image online for anyone to download.

Miranda’s brother-in-law, Luis Crespo (coincidentally also of Montclair), spotted the work and reached out to Sporn on Facebook, asking if she’d be willing to do a design for a T-shirt.

Sporn spent Monday night creating alternative designs. Miranda, Crespo and Miranda’s wife, Vanessa, picked two, for the front and back. On the front is the Miranda quote mingled with a large red heart and the word “pride” in rainbow colors. On the back, the words “Love is” are repeated six times, also in rainbow colors. Miranda’s signature punctuates both sides.

The shirts can be purchased for $29 through teerico.com, Miranda’s newly launched merchandise site. All proceeds from sales of the U.S.-made shirt will go to Equality Cares in Florida, which advocates for Florida’s LGBT community.

Sporn refused compensation for her work. “They were so sweet, because initially, I didn’t even put my name on it,” she says. “I was just so happy to feel like I was doing something productive and positive, and that would put more love out into the world.” Still, Miranda insisted Sporn take credit for her piece. She relented and embedded her name in the heart.

The self-taught artist, who offers classes online and in her studio, creates stencils, stamps and Judaica products, among other pieces. Originally an actress, she switched to law after becoming involved in politics, then, after her first daughter was born, turned her love of art into a career.

Sporn was already a fan of Miranda’s, having seen Hamilton in both its off-Broadway and Broadway incarnations. “I feel very privileged to be alive and aware in a time when someone with so much heart is having such an effect on people.”

The front page of Tee-Rico thanks Sporn for her “inspirational and beautiful design.”

“I spent a lot of today in tears,” she says. “I feel so grateful to be part of something that is helpful in this situation.”

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