Art hits the wall at Walter Reed
January 2, 2009
Everywhere Sgt. Gabriel Del Fierro goes, he leaves his mark - in paint. From Fort Sam Houston, Texas to Tikrit, Iraq, Del Fierro paints images of American pride, tragedy and hope.
The sergeant fought sand storms to complete an eight foot tall, 28-foot-wide wall mural painted with then Spc. Jeremy Walters while deployed in Iraq. A tribute to fallen comrades, the mural features an American eagle and flag blending into an Iraqi sunset with a symbol in the middle to represent the last Soldier's march.
The mural is a favorite backdrop for entertainers who perform for troops at Contingency Operating Base Speicher in Tikrit. It was seen on TV in the states when comic Kathy Griffin taped her Firing at Will comedy tour in 2006.
Del Fierro now is a student at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and the pediatric sedation unit is the gallery for his latest works of art.
Bright, cartoon caricatures of Bugs Bunny, Pluto, Dopey, Wall-E, Winnie-the-Pooh and Stitch grace six ceiling tiles, placed over the beds of Walter Reed's youngest patients to re-direct their anxiety and make their hospital experience more pleasant.
"I asked myself what would my kids like to see and that's when all the characters came to mind," said the father of three.
It takes Del Fierro about 15 minutes to sketch each tile and about an hour to paint.
The Soldier said he hasn't had a chance to see the reaction of parents or patients to his ceiling art but he wants to.
"It's better than any reward - seeing someone smile because of your artwork."