Local artist hopes portrait brings comfort to mayor’s familyWritten by Sarah Ottney | Editor in Chief | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Toledo artist Dani Herrera learned Feb. 1 that Mayor D. Michael Collins was hospitalized in critical condition after a cardiac arrest, she was “heartbroken” and thought immediately of his family.
“I started praying. I lost my father at a young age so I understand the pain they are going through,” said Herrera, whose dad died in a boating accident in 1984. “I wanted to bring some comfort to the family during this hard time.”
Collins, 70, was married and has three daughters and eight grandchildren. He died Feb. 6.
Herrera, who is known for her mixed media artwork, started working on a portrait of Collins on Feb. 1, choosing to depict him as a young Toledo Police officer.
“When I saw that photo of him, I saw excitement in his eyes for the future,” she said.
She finished the piece, which incorporates newspaper, beads, denim and fabric, on Feb. 5.
Herrera said she met Collins once, near the Farmers’ Market one day several years ago when he was a City Councilman.
“He was Downtown just hanging out, and I had no idea who he was,” she said with a laugh. “He said, ‘Hello,’ and we had some small talk. I was like, ‘This guy’s really nice.’”
She was heartbroken again to find out that Collins had died.
However, her original aim to bring comfort to the family hasn’t changed, Herrera said.
“That’s all a stranger can give someone in pain,” she said. “I am praying for peace, but only God can give them that.”
She hasn’t yet reached out to the mayor’s family.
“Not yet,” she said. “I didn’t want to bother them right now.”
Herrera credits her late father as the inspiration for artwork using fabric and mixed media. She made her first piece in 2009 out of a piece of his clothing.
“My mother saved his Army uniform and I began to think about how people just put things like that in the closet,” she said. “I used my dad’s uniform to create his portrait for my sister and that’s how I started using fabric. Now a lot of my business comes from custom requests to use loved ones’ clothes in the piece for memorial art.”