- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - The widow of the pastor gunned down with eight of his parishioners at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church last year sees the spirit of her late husband, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, in a new mural honoring the victims.

The mural by artist Tripp Derrick Barnes, unveiled Friday on a building a few blocks from the sanctuary, shows Pinckney against a background of rainbow colors. At one end is a palmetto tree with nine doves ascending into the sky, an image that has come to represent the victims of the June 17, 2015 shooting.

Pinckney, who was also a South Carolina state senator, was “a humble, God-fearing man,” Jennifer Pinckney told about three dozen people on hand for the mural’s unveiling on the side of a building that houses a nonprofit art center.

“What he was all about was bringing people together,” she said. “This mural brings the colors of all people together.”

The mural also enshrines a quote from her husband.

“Across the South we have a deep appreciation of our history,” it says. “We haven’t always had a deep appreciation of each other’s history.”

Dylann Roof, 22, a white man, faces nine counts of murder in state court and dozens of federal charges in the church shootings, which authorities have said was racially motivated. The state is seeking the death penalty in his state trial set for January. No date has yet been set for the federal trial and the Justice Department has not yet decided whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty.

Barnes said he wanted to complete the mural as the anniversary of the shootings approached.

The South Carolina native who has created celebrity portraits for Susan Sarandon, Matthew McConaughey and New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, among others, donated his time over the past two weeks to create the mural.

He was joined by more than a dozen other local artists who also donated time while it was being painted.

“This is not about me,” Barnes said. “It’s about Charleston. It’s about community. It’s about the other artists involved. It’s about the Pinckneys. It’s about everyone.”

The work was done at night so that the artists could see the mural’s outline, which was projected onto the wall to keep the final work in scale. The mural covers about 1,700 square feet. Barnes said it is the largest project he has ever done.

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